Sunday Sciencey Stuff

It is the weekend and as my usual thing I try to give my readers something to think about that they have never had a thought about in the past…..most of it is worthless news…..but that is the point try to take the reader out of their comfort zone.


Tiny “living machines” made of frog cells can replicate themselves, making copies that can then go on to do the same. This newly described form of renewal offers insights into how to design biological machines that are self-perpetuating.

“This is an incredibly exciting breakthrough,” for the field of biologically based robotics, says Kirstin Petersen, an electrical and computer engineer at Cornell University who studies groups of robots. Robots that can copy themselves are an important step toward systems that don’t need humans to operate, she says.

Earlier this year, researchers described the behaviors of the lab-made living robots, called xenobots (SN: 3/31/21). Plucked out of frogs’ growing bodies, small clumps of skin stem cells from frog embryos knitted themselves into small spheres and began to move. Cellular extensions called cilia served as motors that powered the xenobots as they cruised around their lab dishes.

Tiny living machines called xenobots can create copies of themselves

All the talk these days is about abortion….like when is the embryo a person?  Then there is this news…..

The stem cells were no more than a week old when scientists moved them from their slick-walled plastic wells into ones lined with a thin layer of human endometrial tissue. But in that time, the cells had multiplied and transformed, organizing themselves into semi-hollow spheres. Per the instructions of the chemical cocktail in which they’d been steeping, they were trying to turn into embryos.

Video cameras captured what happened next: The balls of cells rotated until they were cavity-side-up, before finally touching down and grabbing onto the endometrial layer, a cellular proxy for a human uterus. Days later, when the scientists dipped paper test strips into the wells, pink lines appeared. Their Petri dishes were pregnant.

“These experiments clearly point out the fact that we are able to model in the dish the first touch between the embryo and the mother,” stem cell biologist Nicolas Rivron told reporters at a press conference.

Most advanced lab-grown human embryos prompt a pressing question: Are they getting too real?

Now this is a subject that needs debate.

Man’s search for nuclear fusion is coming to a head…..

he ancient village of Culham, nestled in a bend of the River Thames west of London, seems an unlikely launching pad for the future. But next year, construction will start here on a gleaming building of glass and steel that could house what many people consider to be an essential technology to meet demand for clean energy in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Long derided as a prospect that is forever 30 years away, nuclear fusion seems finally to be approaching commercial viability. There are now more than 30 private fusion firms globally, according to an October survey by the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) in Washington DC, which represents companies in the sector; the 18 firms that have declared their funding say they have attracted more than US$2.4 billion in total, almost entirely from private investments (see ‘Fusion funding’). Key to these efforts are advances in materials research and computing that are enabling technologies other than the standard designs that national and international agencies have pursued for so long.

Mars has long been a source of fascination….a shame that it cannot support life as we know…..but that may not be completely true….

Any long term human presence on Mars — colonization, research, visit and travel — that didn’t confine settlers to airtight compounds would rely on a stable atmosphere that doesn’t lose too many particles or fry human bodies with too much radiation.

Now, scientists from a star-studded list of universities and organizations, including NASA’s own chief scientist James Lauer Green, are suggesting that we protect humans on Mars from deadly atmospheric conditions by jumpstarting the planet’s magnetic field.

“For a long-term human presence on Mars to be established, serious thought would need to be given to terraforming the planet,” the team wrote in a new paper that will print in the journal Acta Astronautica in January 2022, first spotted by Universe Today. “One major requirement for such terraforming is having the protection of a planetary magnetic field which Mars currently does not have.”

I saved the best news for last….hopefully the reader made it this far…..

The US Air Force will receive an improved in-flight bladder relief device early next month, helping fighter pilots, especially females, to urinate more easily.

A sortie can be up to 10 hours long, F-35A Lightning II pilot Maj. Nikki Yogi said, approximating the duration between her Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and Guam. 

Having had a poor experience with her device while deployed as an A-10 pilot in 2017, Yogi added, “A pilot should be focused on taking the fight to the enemy, not on whether their bladder relief device is going to work or be comfortable to use.” 

US Air Force Develops Improved In-Flight Peeing Device

This could be a commercial moneymaker….gamers will spend their hard earned money to go through a game without a pee break.

That wraps up the most worthless news available… may thank me later.

Have a good day and be well and safe…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”


4 thoughts on “Sunday Sciencey Stuff

  1. That frog-cell stuff sounds like a step too far in genetic engineering to me.
    As for nuclear fusion, that has been touted as the answer to our power needs since I was a teenager. It still hasn’t happened, and maybe never will.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Frog stuff sounds like the beginning of a bad scifi movie…..fusion is closer than when I was young….but still a ways off I believe as well chuq

  2. USAF invented an inflight peeing device when all they had to do was send away to a source in Sweden for the something similar?

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