Pilots prepare for 5070 mile, 5 day solar powered flight from China to Hawaii


Theoretically, with the light of the sun, the plane could fly forever (Image courtesy of clubic.com)

As early as 5 May, André Borschberg will attempt the first solar powered flight across the Pacific ocean from eastern China to Hawaii. The Solar Impulse plane is a high tech, solar powered aircraft that resembles a dragonfly. The plane has a wingspan of 263 feet – wider than a 747 but only weighing a little more than a minivan. Weather permitting, a lone pilot will fly for 5 days, where he will have to remain awake the entire trip save a few infrequent 20 minute naps. Borschberg’s fellow adventurer Bertrand Piccard is scheduled to fly the plane from Hawaii to Phoenix later this month. Their goal is to prove that energy efficiency, solar power and modern technology can achieve the impossible of flying around the world in a plane without a fuel tank.

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Dead zones in the Atlantic ocean devoid of life found for the first time


The new dead zones have oxygen concentrations 20x lower than the previously recorded minimum (image courtesy of ABC)

Dead zones are areas of deep water where there is so little dissolved oxygen that marine creatures cannot survive. These are normally found along inhabited coastal areas such as the southern and eastern coasts of the United States, caused by man-made pollution that trigger massive algal blooms. Researchers have discovered the first deep ocean dead zones less than 100 kilometres from the Cape Verde archipelago in the Atlantic ocean in huge whirlpools moving along the Atlantic. These whirlpools could trigger massive fish kills and economic disaster for West African countries. The discovery of the first open ocean dead zone is increasing concerns that warming oceans could trigger the creation of more dead zones worldwide.   

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Chinese tourists encouraged to show good manners during travels


Signs promoting “civilized tourism” could be seen in Beijing Botanical Gardens (Image courtesy of visitbeijing.com)

Chinese tourists’ behaviour has been much criticized of late; China is trying to save the image of its citizens by encouraging polite behaviour. In Beijing Botanical Gardens, volunteers asked visitors not to litter or pick flowers, and notified them that misbehaviour could be recorded and may affect future trips. In 2013, a Chinese tourist wrote his name on a carving in Luxor, Egypt. An angry Chinese passenger also threw a hot cup of instant noodles at a flight attendant in December. With 109 million trips abroad in 2014, even one in a million could reflect poorly on China.

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A graphic published on PLOS One illustrates political polarization in congress. 

The original network diagram visualized congress' polarization from 1949 to 2011. (Image courtesy of PLOS ONE.)

The original network diagram visualized congress’ polarization from 1949 to 2011. (Image courtesy of PLOS ONE.)

America’s congress has seen great political polarization in the last two decades. This is largely due to the Republicans’ retreat from the “middle”, as shown in the graphic. The graphic is a group of researcher’s stab at visualizing the division of opinion in congress. The Democrats and the Republicans had voted similarly up to the 1980s. Then they began what Christopher Ingraham, the author of the article, describes as a “political mitosis.” Not only have the two parties been further divided in their voting, they have become more aligned with the popular opinion within their own parties. Although the image does not show anything that was not known already about American politics, it is still a powerful visualisation of the current situation.

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An enzyme able to transform type A and B blood to a close variation of type O is engineered. 

With current methods, if the patient recieves incompatible blood, their immune system will attack the cells of the donor's blood which may lead to kideny failure. (Image courtesy of Shuttershock.)

With current methods, if the patient receives incompatible blood, their immune system will attack the cells of the donor’s blood which may lead to kidney failure. (Image courtesy of Shuttershock.)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered an enzyme that is efficient in snipping off the antigens in type A and B blood. This makes it so that the blood is more similar to type O blood which is considered a universal donor that is given regardless of the receiver’s blood type. In the creation of this enzyme, the researchers used directed evolution, a new technology, which inserted mutations into the genes of the enzyme for five generations until the enzyme became 170 times more effective. Steve Withers, a professor in UBC’s department of chemistry said “The concept is not new but until now we needed so much of the enzyme to make it work that it was impractical, now I’m confident that we can take this a whole lot further.” This new enzyme could soon prove to be a possible solution to the long-standing problem of shortages of receiver compatible blood types in blood banks.

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