Here are four good news stories about how science is improving our lives.
Scientists have found a way to create nanodiamonds from PET plastic.
A universal and future-proof COVID-19 vaccine is about to be tested in humans.
There are new discoveries about the power to perform random acts of kindness.
A woman with an acute sense of smell helped create a simple test to diagnose Parkinson’s.
Watch the video above to get the full summary and learn more about the following:
1. Scientists have found a way to create nanodiamonds from PET plastic.
Turning plastic into diamonds sounds like something out of a modern fairy tale, but an experiment originally designed to better understand the planets known as ice giants – such as Uranus and Neptune – led to an unexpected discovery.
Scientists were studying a phenomenon called “diamond rain”, which is thought to form due to the unique mix of elements within these planets.
They conducted the experiments using PET plastic, the polymer found in packaging such as water bottles, which is made up of a mixture of hydrogen and carbon. The team managed to mimic the process that takes place inside ice giants by creating high-pressure shockwaves with an optical laser on the plastic.
If you imagine between a million and two million elephants jumping on an object at the same time, this is the kind of pressure we’re talking about.
Researchers were thrilled when this produced tiny synthetic diamonds.
What is truly extraordinary is the clarity of the results they saw in the results, says Prof. Dr. Dominik Kraus, of the University of Rostock, who participated in the experiments. “A large fraction of the carbon atoms turn into diamonds, very quickly in a few nanoseconds”,
“Even when the pressure is released, the diamonds remain. And that means there are ways to retrieve them and make them applicable and maybe use them for other things, “he told Euronews.
Man-made diamonds share many of the most important properties of natural diamonds, so in addition to being very beautiful, these nanodiamonds have potential applications for quantum technology and medicine.
The experiments were set up to gain a better understanding of the planets in our solar system. “This could again be one of many examples in the history of science where such curiosity and something that seems very distant could then result in some real-world applications,” says prof. Kraus.
If this is, as it seems, a new and efficient way to produce nanodiamonds using the same plastic that ends up in landfills every year, this could be great news for our planet.
2. A universal and future-proof COVID-19 vaccine is about to be tested in humans.
For years, public health figures and scientists have complained about the lack of funds to develop vaccines to protect us from present and future viruses. But COVID-19 changed everything.
Since the onset of the pandemic, tens of millions of dollars have been earmarked for research groups looking into universal coronavirus vaccines, which we now urgently need if we are to be sure of a COVID-free future.
A universal vaccine against COVID-19 would defeat any variant that may appear in the future, as well as any future disease caused by entirely new types of coronavirus.
The good news is that people had already started working on it long before we’d ever heard of alpha, delta, omicron and the rest of them.
One such scientist was Alexander Cohen, a doctoral student at the California Institute of Technology, and the researchers at Cohen’s lab are getting very close to their goal.
The initial results look very promising, as the antibodies produced in the lab’s vaccine identified not only all eight coronaviruses included in the vaccine, but also four additional coronaviruses that weren’t included. In March of this year, the group reported that the vaccine appeared to protect mice and monkeys that had been exposed to a number of coronaviruses. In July, they published the results in Science.
The next step is to test the vaccine on humans, and funding for this is already in place. If successful, it could save us from having to endure another COVID-related blockage again.
3. There are new discoveries about the power to perform random acts of kindness.
Making small gestures of kindness makes everyone happy: those who give and those who receive. The strange thing, however, is that the Good Samaritans of the world tend not to realize how happy they are making people, according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Researchers believe this could prevent many of us from doing nice things for others more often, which means people are missing out on opportunities to feel good and make others feel good.
They have conducted experiments with hundreds of people, who have performed and received random acts of kindness, such as buying a stranger a coffee or a cup of hot chocolate, and in all of them, those who perform kind acts have consistently underestimated how positive they would be. other people feel.
The idea that kindness can increase well-being isn’t exactly new. Many studies have already shown how voluntarily helping others generate positive emotions for both sides.
But experts say that each new discovery strengthens the idea, making it a stronger scientific argument, and not just something that seems logical.
4. A Scottish woman with an acute sense of smell helped create a simple test to diagnose Parkinson’s.
Joy Milne, 72, accidentally provided a breakthrough in detecting Parkinson’s disease.
She had noticed that her husband’s smell had changed 12 years before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, noting that he had developed a musky odor, different from his normal smell.
“Strangely when I wake up in the morning I don’t open my eyes, I can smell my surroundings,” she said.
Joy Milne has hereditary hyperosmia; people with this condition are known as “super odors”.
A team from the University of Manchester harnessed its power and found that Parkinson’s disease does indeed have a peculiar smell.
With the help of Mme Milne, they developed a test that could determine in just three minutes if someone has Parkinson’s disease.
“We swab people’s backs just like that, and then we take it to the mass spectrometer where we analyze the compounds on the skin and from those we can find out if someone has Parkinson’s or not,” explains Professor Perdita Barran, who led the research. , to Euronews.
“Our goal is to do what is called a confirmatory diagnostic for the specialist to help them get the right treatment.”
Until now, there was no specific test for Parkinson’s and the diagnosis was based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history. This is all about to change, with a simple cotton swab.
Remember, it can be hard to find in the headlines, but some news can be good news.