Science News May 14, 2019

Jeff Bezos reveals a new lunar lander, scientists seek to slow the aging process, reality may be similar to a hologram, Romania has a new deadly laser, electrical shocks could fight drug addiction, and Pokemon can change your brain. Here are this week’s headlines:

Bezos Unveils Blue Moon

Amazon founder and richest man in the world Jeff Bezos has unveiled the proposed lunar lander from Blue Origin, his private space program. The lunar module is being called Blue Moon, and is designed to carry up to 6.5 tons to the lunar surface.  The rocket intended to launch the vehicle to the moon is expected to undergo its first testing this summer. Blue Origin hopes that a modified version of the lander can one day carry a module for a manned flight to the lunar surface.


ISS Experiment to Slow Aging

There are many factors that cause biological aging. One of those factors is free radicals. A new experiment aboard the International Space Station is testing the use of nanoparticles in fighting free radicals. Antioxidants as we know them are dietary vitamins that need to be constantly replenished (a regular part of the diet). But the experiment from the European Space Agency is to test a ceramic antioxidant, called nanocenia, that have enzymatic activity and can fight free radicals for weeks without having to be replenished, thus reducing the effects of one of the major causes of advanced aging.


Is Reality a Quantum Hologram?

Einstein didn’t like quantum entanglement all that much, calling it “spooky action at a distance”.  But now some scientists believe that entanglement might be the key to reality.  According to theory, two particles can become entangled and match behavior simultaneously. That means information is sent well beyond the speed of light, which is the cosmic speed limit according to Einstein. That is, unless entanglement makes up space-time to begin with. The new theory says that much like a two-dimensional image can produce a three-dimensional hologram, three-dimensional mathematics can explain four-dimensional space-time, and the universe is simply a giant quantum hologram. I don’t think Einstein would be pleased.

A Massive Super Laser

Researchers in Romania have developed a 10 petawatt laser. Just one petawatt is equal to a million billion watts. This one is 10 PW. By way of comparison, laser pointers, for safety reasons, are capped out at 0.005 watts. There are plans for even more powerful lasers in the future. But the laser isn’t for a Death Star or any other weapons platform. Instead, it’s intended for research purposes … the kind of research that requires a matter-vaporizing laser that’s one-tenth the power of the sun.


Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Doctors at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai are conducting trials for a new use for deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS has been used to treat neurological disorders like Parkinson’s. But now they think it might be an efficient treatment for drug addiction. The trial subject is a patient who has had frequent relapses in drug treatment, a man whose full name is not known publicly, only his surname of Yan has been released. Doctors hope that DBS will be the key for Yan finally kicking the addiction for good. A similar trial has been approved for research in the United States. No word on when that trial will begin.


Pokémon Brains

Brain scans show that adults who played Pokémon as children tend to have a part of the brain dedicated to recognizing various Pokemon. While it was only eleven experienced players and eleven novices that were tested, the results were consistent. Those who played as children and again as adults had a small region of the brain devoted to the fictional creatures. The researchers believe that the same thing would happen with any brain when any activity is repeated enough, but it does offer some new insight on how the brain stores and processes visual information.


Daniel C. Handley

Dan Handley was raised a Trekkie, fell in love with "Star Wars" at an early age, and became obsessed with comic book superheroes. He spent his youth dreaming of how to get real superpowers, starships, and so on.

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