Future Tech: Plus…a tanning drug for fair skin & genetically-engineered algae for fuel.
Massive lightweight drone has some unlikely uses
From Popular Science:
Meet China's huge solar-powered drone, a 130-foot-wide machine designed to fly at more than 65,000 feet, for days on end. How? A super lightweight body and renewable energy tech that can power all eight of its electrical propellers. Oh, and it can reach speeds up to 125 miles per hour.
The "Caihong-T 4" (CH-T4), built by the Chinese Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), has a double-bodied fuselage, cranked wing, and twin tail. It's got a wingspan of 40 meters—or about 130 feet, which means it's wider than a Boeing 737 jetliner. Despite the large size, it weighs between 880 and 1,100 pounds. It owes this lightness to its carbon fiber and plastic components. …
For both militaries and tech firms, covering so much territory makes it an excellent data relay and communications node. This will allow the drone to replace or back up satellite communications, maintain coverage between distant aircraft and ships, or even provide broadband to rural Chinese households.
This new drug gives fair-skinned people a real tan
From Science News:
A method that gives mice a tan without using ultraviolet radiation now works in human skin samples. It’s an early step in developing a lotion or cream that might provide fair-skinned folk with protection against skin cancer.
As reported June 13 in Cell Reports, a topical drug penetrated and tanned laboratory samples of live human skin, absent the sun. Unlike self-tanning lotions that essentially stain skin brown and provide minimal sun protection, the drug activates the production of the dark form of the skin pigment melanin, which absorbs UV radiation and diminishes damage to skin cells.
The team behind this study had worked with a different drug, the plant extract forskolin, in a 2006 study. The researchers used mice with skin like that of red-haired, fair-skinned people, who don’t tan because of a nonfunctioning protein on the surface of the skin cells that make melanin.
Is algae the future of energy?
The future of fuel is green, slimy, and reeks of fish. "Fish smell like fish because fish eat algae," says Imad Ajjawi, a geneticist at Synthetic Genomics in La Jolla, CA that grows those smelly photosynthesizers.
This algae is also fatty, which probably isn't a word you'd typically associate with the goopy, mucky organism. But scientists like Ajjawi have spent decades dreaming about algae this fat. Because fat is essentially oil, fatty algae could be the world's most successful fuel crop.
Ajjawi and his colleagues spent nearly a decade tweaking an algae genome so it produces more than twice as much fat than wild versions of the same species, and Monday they described their efforts in an article published in Nature Biotechnology.
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