23 year old, Systems theory junkie, INTP, and Transhumanist.

 

heythereuniverse:

The Great Dying: Explosive Microbial Growth Caused Earth’s Greatest Extinction Event | The Daily Galaxy

The physical environment can produce sudden shocks to the life of our planet through impacting space rocks, erupting volcanoes and other events. But sometimes life itself turns the tables and strikes a swift blow back to the environment. MIT researchers have identified a different culprit — one coming from biology rather than geology. They argue that the carbon disruption and, consequently, the end-Permian extinction were set off by a particular microorganism that evolved a new way to digest organic material into methane.

The end-Permian (or PT) extinction event occurred 252 million years ago. It is often called the Great Dying because around 90 percent of marine species disappeared in one fell swoop. Similar numbers died on land as well, producing a stark contrast between Permian rock layers beneath (or before) the extinction and the Triassic layers above. Extinctions are common throughout time, but for this one, the fossil record truly skipped a beat.

"The end-Permian is the greatest extinction event that we know of," said Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The changes in the fossil record were obvious even to 19th Century geologists.”

[Link to the original paper]

[Read more]

[Photo 1 Credit[Photo 2 Credit]

phoebethatcher:

Mushroom Primer, 2013, pen & ink. 

A 12-page zine/booklet, featuring a big diagram on the center spread. Print-your-own*, or, if you know me in real life, I’ll print you one on request ($2 apiece). 

*Make sure to trick your printer into not cutting off the borders (like in the second picture down). 

wildcat2030:

Biohackers Are Growing Real Cheese In A Lab, No Cow Needed -Real vegan cheese. It’s not an oxymoron, it’s a miracle of synthetic biology. / If you’re a vegan, cheese options are limited. There are high-quality vegan cheeses out there, but they just don’t taste the same, and they’re mostly soft— it’s difficult to make any sort of hard vegan cheese, like gouda or cheddar. A team of Bay Area biohackers is trying to create a new option: real vegan cheese. That is, cheese derived from baker’s yeast that has been modified to produce real milk proteins. It’s the same as cow cheese, but made without the cow. Think of it as the cheese equivalent of lab-grown meat. The journey towards vegan cheese began a few years ago, when synthetic biologist Marc Juul started thinking about the genetic engineering possibilities. Now, Juul and a group of people from two Bay Area biohacker spaces, Counter Culture Labs and BioCurious, are trying to create a finished product in time for the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition—a global synthetic biology competition—in October. So far, they’ve raised over $16,000 on Indiegogo to do it. (via Biohackers Are Growing Real Cheese In A Lab, No Cow Needed | Co.Exist | ideas impact)

wildcat2030:

Biohackers Are Growing Real Cheese In A Lab, No Cow Needed
-
Real vegan cheese. It’s not an oxymoron, it’s a miracle of synthetic biology.
/
If you’re a vegan, cheese options are limited. There are high-quality vegan cheeses out there, but they just don’t taste the same, and they’re mostly soft— it’s difficult to make any sort of hard vegan cheese, like gouda or cheddar. A team of Bay Area biohackers is trying to create a new option: real vegan cheese. That is, cheese derived from baker’s yeast that has been modified to produce real milk proteins. It’s the same as cow cheese, but made without the cow. Think of it as the cheese equivalent of lab-grown meat. The journey towards vegan cheese began a few years ago, when synthetic biologist Marc Juul started thinking about the genetic engineering possibilities. Now, Juul and a group of people from two Bay Area biohacker spaces, Counter Culture Labs and BioCurious, are trying to create a finished product in time for the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition—a global synthetic biology competition—in October. So far, they’ve raised over $16,000 on Indiegogo to do it. (via Biohackers Are Growing Real Cheese In A Lab, No Cow Needed | Co.Exist | ideas impact)

The Alnwick Poison Garden is pretty much what you’d think it is: a garden full of plants that can kill you (among many other things). Some of the plants are so dangerous that they have to be kept behind bars. [x]

(Source: bregma)

scientificillustration:

The First Model of Oxygenated Haemoglobin by Center for Image in Science and Art _ UL on Flickr
“Author: Max Perutz
Date: September 1959
Description: The first model of oxygenated haemoglobin is one of the iconic images of twentieth-century biology. Complete molecule of haemoglobin is made up of four subunits, each of which consists of one polypeptide chain and one haem.There are two kinds of subunit, designated alpha (white) and beta (black), which have different sequences of amino acid residues but similar three-dimensional structures. The beta chain also has one short extra helix. The four subunits are arranged at the vertices of a tetrahedron around an axis of two-fold symmetry. Each haem (gray) lies in a separate pocket at the surface of the molecule. Haemoglobin is the iron-containing oxygen-transport metalloprotein in the red blood cells of vertebrates. 
Source: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology”

scientificillustration:

The First Model of Oxygenated Haemoglobin by Center for Image in Science and Art _ UL on Flickr

Author: Max Perutz

Date: September 1959

Description: The first model of oxygenated haemoglobin is one of the iconic images of twentieth-century biology. Complete molecule of haemoglobin is made up of four subunits, each of which consists of one polypeptide chain and one haem.There are two kinds of subunit, designated alpha (white) and beta (black), which have different sequences of amino acid residues but similar three-dimensional structures. The beta chain also has one short extra helix. The four subunits are arranged at the vertices of a tetrahedron around an axis of two-fold symmetry. Each haem (gray) lies in a separate pocket at the surface of the molecule. Haemoglobin is the iron-containing oxygen-transport metalloprotein in the red blood cells of vertebrates. 

Source: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

ronbeckdesigns:

A rare rose-shaped succulent from the Canary Islands. Greenovia dodrentalis unknown

ronbeckdesigns:

A rare rose-shaped succulent from the Canary Islands. Greenovia dodrentalis unknown

spaceplasma:

Tokamaks: the future of fusion energy

Fusion is the energy that powers our Sun and other stars.  It has been a goal of scientists around the world to harness this process by which the stars “burn” hydrogen into helium (i.e. nuclear fusion) for energy production on Earth since it was discovered in the 1940′s.

Nuclear fusion is the process by which light nuclei fuse together to create a single, heavier nucleus and release energy.  Given the correct conditions (such as those found in plasma), nuclei of light elements can smash into each other with enough energy to undergo fusion. The “easiest” (most energetically favorable) fusion reaction occurs between the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium.  When the nucleus of a deuterium atom crashes into the nucleus of a tritium atom with sufficient energy, a fusion reaction occurs and a huge amount of energy is released, 17.6 million electron volts to be exact. 

Why fusion? To put this in terms of energy that we all experience; fusion generates more energy per reaction than any other energy source.  A single gram of deuterium/tritium fusion fuel can generate 350 million kJ of energy, nearly 10 million times more energy than from the same amount of fossil fuel!

Fusion power has the potential to provide sufficient energy to satisfy mounting demand, and to do so sustainably, with a relatively small impact on the environment. Nuclear fusion has many potential attractions. Firstly, its hydrogen isotope fuels are relatively abundant – one of the necessary isotopes, deuterium, can be extracted from seawater, while the other fuel, tritium, would be bred from a lithium blanket using neutrons produced in the fusion reaction itself. Furthermore, a fusion reactor would produce virtually no CO2 or atmospheric pollutants, and its other radioactive waste products would be very short-lived compared to those produced by conventional nuclear reactors.

Fusion reactions require so much energy that they must occur with the hydrogen isotopes in this plasma state. Plasma makes up all of the stars, and is the most common form of matter in the visible universe. Since plasmas are made of charged particles every particle can interact with every other particle, even over very long distances. The fact that 99% of the universe is made of plasmas makes studying them very important if we are to understand how the universe works.

How do we create fusion in a laboratory? This is where tokamaks come in. In order for nuclear fusion to occur, the nuclei inside of the plasma must first be extremely hot, like in a star. Unfortunately, no material on Earth can withstand these temperatures so in order to contain a plasma with such high temperatures, we have to be creative. One clever solution is to create a magnetic “bottle” using large magnet coils to capture the plasma and suspend it away from the container’s surfaces. The plasma follows along the magnetic field, suspended away from the walls. This complex combination of magnets used to confine the plasma and the chamber where the plasma is held is known as a tokamak. Tokamaks have a toroidal shape (i.e. they are shaped like a donut) so they have no open ends for plasma to escape. Tokamaks, like the ASDEX Upgrade (pictured above), create and contain the hottest materials in the solar system. The aim of ASDEX Upgrade, the “Axially Symmetric Divertor Experiment”, is to prepare the physics base for ITER.

ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and Latin for “the way” or “the road”) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world’s largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. The ITER project aims to make the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power plants.

Further readings:

The theory that those who start reasonably equal cannot remain reasonably equal is a fallacy founded entirely on a society in which they start extremely unequal.

G.K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity (1927).