Bunsen Burner 06/19/15

The Bunsen Burner #1

So as you might already know, I'm a pretty big fan of science. Anything to do with biology, chemistry, or physics is something I find completely amazing. Everyday I find stuff that just seems impossible and truly awe inspiring, which is where this column comes in! Every Saturday I'm going to be posting an article about the coolest, craziest, and truly incredible discoveries in science this week, so that everyone can get a taste of what makes science so great! This could be ranging from health related discoveries, so us finding out that Saturn's moon TITAN can possibly hold life (true story). So stay tuned and get ready to have your mind blown away! 


Scientists recently created a new, grippable material that acts much like how a geckos hand works. Using tunable adhesions (the ability to change the amount of force gripping on to an object) the gripper is able to pick up lightweight objects and set them back down using no moving parts. There are a bunch of small (like really, REALLY small) ridges that stick to the surface of the object. This is especially huge when looking into light weight and fragile items, because there will be no need to squeeze the object to lift it: just stick the gripped to the object and there it goes! Right now, the grippers are specially designed to move smooth items like glass, but will eventually be used for grander scale projects, like piecing together small, fragile parts of a motherboard. While this is still in very a very early prototype phase, scientists are hoping that eventually we can use this type of gripped for lifting heavy items without the use of a crane. 


Recently scientists have found a protein called BMP-9 that can potentially reverse, or slow down, the effects of heart and lung disease. This protein specifically targets the gene that causes the disease and deactivates it, causing the damage to slowly reverse or stop. Before this protein, there have been very little successful attempts at finding  treatment for heart disease because of how vicious it is. The only previous cure was either a heart or lung transplant, which is incredibly dangerous and has tons of side effects. The blood vessels around the lungs and heart degrade which causes many people to be unable to do any sorts of physical activity. Thankfully this treatment is a lot cheaper and has way less risks! While it is still in the animal testing phase (boo), scientists hope that it will be used widespread in 5 years.


The big topic of the 21st century is space travel, and whether or not we can colonize planets that are like ours. For a long time we have looked towards other galaxies to find a host planet suitable for us, but we may have one in our solar system. One of Saturn’s moons, TITAN, may have an atmosphere that is much more similar to ours than originally imagined. Polar winds are a huge indicator of what type of atmosphere a planet has, and scientists have recently found that the polar winds on TITAN cause an atmosphere very similar to Earth. And while this is so insanely cool, just having an atmosphere like Earth’s doesn’t mean much if it’s a barren wasteland. But wait! There’s more! TITAN is the only other planet in our solar system that has liquid water running on its surface. This makes it the closest Earth like planet to us, and one of our best chances at colonizing a planet in our solar system.

You can follow JD on Twitter: @JFreakingD

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