Space appears to be the new frontier for tech entrepreneurs. After Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, it’s time for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to join the league. Wozniak on September 13 announced that he is setting up a private space company that is “unlike the others.” The new company will be called Privateer Space and its mission would be to keep space safe and accessible to all humankind.
Wozniak, popularly known as “Woz,” will be establishing the company with Ripcord co-founder Alex Fielding. Wozniak tweeted a YouTube video explaining the vision of Privateer Space. The video begins with a strong message — “Together, we will go far.”
A Private space company is starting up, unlike the others. https://t.co/6s8J32mjuF
— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) September 13, 2021
“We’ll look out for one another. Solve problems together. It isn’t a race, it isn’t a competition or a game. We are not one person, one company, one nation. We’re one planet. We’re explorers. We’re dreamers, risk-takers, engineers, stargazers. We are human and it’s up to us to do what is right and what is good. So here’s to taking care of what we have so that the next generation can be better, together,” the voiceover said.
The website of Privateer Space only says, “The sky is no longer the limit” and “We are in stealth mode.” It also says the company will be at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies conference in Hawaii that begins today, September 14. No more details about the company have been made available yet.
Recently, the race to promote space tourism has heated up with Virgin Galactic’s test flight in which its founder Richard Branson himself travelled to space in July. A week later, Amazon founder Bezos did so in his company Blue Origin‘s private spacecraft. And now, Musk’s SpaceX is set to launch an all-civilian space mission on Wednesday, September 15.
Research Suggests Stomata Doesn’t Control Loss of Water From Plant Leaves
Conducting a series of experiments over years, scientists have gained a deeper understanding of plant physiology and their water requirements. When plants take in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, they tend to lose a large amount of water. This water is crucial for them as it makes up their dry plant matter besides providing hydration to it. In the new study, scientists have discovered a long-hidden secret that might now help in making plants survive even using less water.
Plants need around 300 grams of water just to produce one gram of dry mass. This is because plants source water from the soil through the roots, which then end up evaporating in the atmosphere from the leaves.
The leaves have microscopic valves called stomata that open for taking in carbon dioxide which is required for plant growth and photosynthesis. When these pores open up, the moist internal tissue of the leaves gets exposed to the dry air outside. This suggests that water vapour can diffuse out whenever the stomata are open.
Researchers have long believed that the stomata controlled the amount of water escaping the leaves. This stemmed from the belief that the air inside a leaf is saturated while the air outside it is relatively drier. But now, after conducting experiments over the past 15 years, researchers have found evidence against the assumption.
They have noted that when the humidity level dropped outside the leaf, the relative humidity in the air space inside also witnessed a decline, which was sometimes as low as 80 percent. However, it was also observed that despite the drop in humidity level inside the leaves, the photosynthesis did not stop or slowed down.
This indicated that the rate of water loss from the plants was not affected by the increase in the evaporative demand of the outside air. Hence, if the plants were controlling the water loss through stomata, one would have witnessed the photosynthesis getting stopped or slowing down. The study suggests that plants can control water loss from their leaves while absorbing carbon dioxide and keeping the stomata open. The findings, published in Nature Plants, pointed towards a possibility that the plants may be using special water-gating proteins called aquaporins to control the movement of water in them.
New Gel-Based Artificial Cartilage Might Eliminate the Need for Total Knee Replacement
Knee pain is one of the most rampant health issues for many. This pain stems from the wear and tear of the cartilage in a medical condition called osteoarthritis. Seeking relief, people commonly turn to steroid injections, pain relievers, physical therapies, or getting their knee joint replaced. But, a new development might prove to be a game changer. Researchers from Duke University have created the first gel-based substitute for natural cartilage, which, according to them, is more durable than the original. The hydrogel material is made of water and absorbing materials, and can effectively resist wear and tear up to three times more than the natural cartilage.
To develop the material, the team infused thin sheets of cellulose fibres with a polymer named polyvinyl alcohol and create a gel. The polymer has a viscous gum-like consistency and has stringy chains of repeating molecules.
The cellulose mimics the function of the collagen fibres in natural cartilage and provides strength to the gel when it is stretched. The polyvinyl alcohol, meanwhile, helps the gel regain its original shape. With these properties, a Jello-like material was created that has 60 percent water but still offers great strength.
Testing revealed that the material was even stronger than the natural cartilage. Our cartilage can resist 5,800 pounds of tugging and 8,500 pounds of squishing. However, the artificial cartilage proved to be 26 percent stronger in tension and 66 percent stronger in terms of compression than the natural cartilage.
“It’s really off the charts in terms of hydrogel strength,” said Duke University’s professor Benjamin Wiley. He is the lead author of the study published in Advanced Functional Materials.
The team had developed the hydrogel in 2020 but has now put it to practical use as artificial cartilage. With the massive strength of the cartilage, researchers faced challenges trying to secure it to the joint. For this, they cemented and clamped the hydrogel on a titanium base which was then pressed and anchored into a hole in the place of the damaged cartilage. This helped them maintain the cartilage in place.
According to Wiley, artificial cartilage is better than going for a total knee replacement. He said artificial joints require major surgery to be implanted and need to be replaced later. Talking of the new material, he added, “I think this will be a dramatic change in treatment for people at this stage.” Researchers are now looking forward to the clinical trials of artificial cartilage.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Launched Falcon 9 With 46 Starlink Satellites to Low-Earth Orbit
Billionaire tycoon Elon Musk-led SpaceX launched another batch of Starlink satellites into orbit on Friday.Taking to his official Twitter account, Musk, the founder of American spacecraft manufacturer, and satellite communications corporation SpaceX shared the details about the new satellite launch.
Nine minutes after the launch, the rocket first landed over a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean and it was liftoff in a short time. The second stage was expected to deploy the satellites 63 minutes after launch after the livestream concluded.
The new satellites are part of Group 3, which orbits in a shell that might be prone to debris “squalls” from a Russian anti-satellite test that took place in November last year, according to SpaceNews report.
A space-tracking company COMSPOC recently revealed a conjunction squall event, in which the 841 Starlink satellites representing about 30 percent of the SpaceX constellation are affected by 6,000 close approaches.
A conjunction, by COMSPOC standards, is defined as two orbiting objects being within 6 miles (10 kilometres) of each other. SpaceX hasn’t commented on whether any Starlinks were affected, but in past discussions about space junk, the company has emphasized that its satellites can manoeuvre to dodge close-approaching spacecraft or debris.
COMSPOC stated in a report that, Group 3 of Starlink’s five layers spacecraft are in a similar orbit to other sun-synchronous satellites that have come close to the Russian ASAT debris before.
Group 3 is at an inclination of 97.6 degrees and at an altitude of 347 miles (560 kilometres), according to Teslarati.
SpaceX has already sent two other Group 3 collections into orbit, on July 10 and July 22, both from Vandenberg.
SpaceX’s 36th launch of 2022 added to its ever-growing record for launches in a year. The company also concluded its 62nd consecutive landing of a first stage, and a 34th reflight of a booster in 2022.
Friday’s flight was the 10th for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, according to reports, it was a SpaceX mission.
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