In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal “Physical Review”, scientists reported that they had achieved an unexpectantly high pressure when generating plasma in a tokamak reactor. Researchers achieved a pressure thought to be sufficient for a sustained energy positive fusion reaction. They accomplished this by changing the shape of the magnetic bottle. Up until this point, there were two magnetic bottle types, H-mode and L-mode. H-mode contained the plasma very tightly and could achieve the desired temperatures for fusion. However, it was not very stable leading to plasma reaction fluctuations that are extremely difficult to control. Normally, running in H-mode would lead to reactor walls turning to slag due to unconstrained particle leakage. L-mode is almost the reverse of this. L did not confine the plasma tightly, which meant that the fusion reaction was not able to reach the desired temperature and pressure. L-mode was even more unstable than H-mode, but methods have been developed that allows the plasma reaction fluctuations to be controlled.
In this paper, Scientists changed the orientation of the magnetic field and heated the plasma beyond the normal H-mode threshold. Not only did the plasma stay in the L mode, but it achieved temperature and pressure that would lead to sustained net positive fusion in a larger reactor. In addition, they reported that plasma instabilities grew slower than in a traditional L-mode magnetic bottle. This research shows that fusion proposals for ITER and other fusion reactors are feasible.
CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex announced that they had administered a gene-editing therapy, CTX001, to a human patient with beta-thalassemia. This marked the first time CRISPR was administered to a human in a formal scientific study setting. CTX001 is designed to treat two blood disorders, beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anemia. An additional study on CTX001 efficacy on sickle cell anemia has also been granted fast-track status by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.
CRISPR Therapeutics CEO, Samarth Kulkarni, states that “We have made tremendous progress with CTX001 and are pleased to announce that we’ve treated the first patient with beta-thalassemia in this clinical study. Treating the first patient in this study marks an important scientific and medical milestone and the beginning of our efforts to fully realize the promise of CRISPR/Cas9 therapies as a new class of potentially transformative medicines to treat serious diseases.”
CTX001 narrowly beat another study to be the first CRISPR administered. The University of Pennsylvania’s CRISPR trial targeting multiple myeloma, sarcoma, and melanoma is expected to commence in the next few days. The FDA has also approved additional CRISPR trials that target Leber congenital amaurosis, hemophilia A, and ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration linked to mutations of the C9ORF72 gene
Analysis of 353 species of wild bee and pollinating insects in Britan shows that they have lost a quarter of their range since 1980. This research mirrors previous research conducted in other countries such as Puerto Rico and Germany. Researchers are increasingly sounding the alarm that the drop in range and number of pollinating insects could grievously harm crop production. It is thought that much of the loss can be attributed to neonicotinoid insecticides. These insecticides have been shown to harm insect populations, and have been banned in many countries throughout the world. However, scientists also believe that habit destruction caused by humans has played a role. According to Matt Shardlow, of the conservation charity Buglife, “Unless the pesticide approval process was improved to help bee safety and green subsidies were targeted to create corridors that connect wild spaces, we can expect the declines to continue or worsen.”
In a “real-life” conditions test, Insolight’s full-size solar panels achieved an efficiency of 29%. During the year-long pilot study, the panels were subjected to heat-waves, winter conditions, and severe storms. The test was overseen by the Solar Energy Institute of the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. These new solar panels use an embedded grid of lenses to concentrate the light several hundred times and then direct it to an array of multi-junction photovoltaic cells. Insolight’s 29% efficiency is a large step forward from a standard silicon panel which averages an efficiency of 18%. The current panel efficiency record stands at 44.7%, but it uses rare and expensive elements that are not feasible for mass production. Insolight’s solar panels are designed to be price-competitive.
A Telsa Model 3 successfully recorded a vandal scratching the car. The Telsa Model 3 is able to record its surroundings when placed into sentry mode. In sentry mode, the car monitors for situations where it should activate into alert status. When in alarm status, the vehicle will display a warning stating that it is recording, blare music at maximum volume, and engage the Model 3’s lights as a form of car alarm. Sentry mode is designed to prevent break-ins, but it can now also help to prevent vandals from damaging the outside of the vehicle. Thanks to the recording, police were able to apprehend and arrest the vandal.