Category Archives: Uncategorized

Supercomputer Finds Oil 10 Times Faster

Energy major Total said its new supercomputer – which has propelled it to a world ranking as the most powerful computer in the sector – will enable its geologists to find oil faster, cheaper and with a better success rate. The Pangea III computer build by IBM will help process complex seismic data in the search for hydrocarbons 10 times faster that before, Total said on Tuesday. The computing power of the Pangea III has been increased to 31.7 so-called ‘petaflops’ from 6.7 petaflops in 2016, and from 2.3 petaflops in 2013, Total said, adding that it was the equivalent of around 170,000 laptops combined. The computer ranks as number 1 among supercomputers in the oil and gas sector, and number 11 globally, according to the TOP500 table (www.top500.org) which ranks supercomputers twice a year. Total’s European peer Eni’s HPC4 supercomputer is ranked number 17 in the global top 500 list.

Oil and gas companies, along with other industrial groups, are increasingly relying on powerful computers to process complex data faster. This enables them to cut costs while boosting productivity and the success rate of projects. Total did not say how much it had invested in the new supercomputer. The company’s senior vice president for exploration, Kevin McLachlan, told Reuters that 80% of the Pangea III’s time would be dedicated to seismic imaging.

We can do things much faster,” he said. “We are developing advanced imaging algorithms to give us much better images of the sub-surface in these complex domains and Pangea III will let us do it 10 times faster than we could before.” Total said the new algorithms can process huge amounts of data more accurately, and at a higher resolution. It would also help to locate more reliably hydrocarbons below ground, which is useful in complex environments where it is exploring for oil trapped under salt, such as Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Angola and the Eastern Mediterranean. McLachlan expected the increased computer power to affect Total’s success rate in exploration, because of the better imaging, and in oil well appraisals, development and drilling.

What used to take a week, now takes us a day to process,” he said, adding that tens of millions of dollars of savings would be made on the oil wells as a direct result of obtaining better images.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Smart Materials Built With The Power Of Sound

Researchers have used sound waves to precisely manipulate atoms and molecules, accelerating the sustainable production of breakthrough smart materials.  Metal Organic Frameworks, or MOFs, are incredibly versatile and super porous nanomaterials that can be used to store, separate, release or protect almost anythingPredicted to be the defining material of the 21st century, MOFs are ideal for sensing and trapping substances at minute concentrations, to purify water or air, and can also hold large amounts of energy, for making better batteries and energy storage devices. Scientists have designed more than 88,000 precisely-customised MOFs – with applications ranging from agriculture to pharmaceuticals – but the traditional process for creating them is environmentally unsustainable and can take several hours or even days

Now researchers from RMIT in Australia have demonstrated a clean, green technique that can produce a customised MOF in minutes. Dr Heba Ahmed, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, said the efficient and scaleable method harnessed the precision power of high-frequency sound waves.

Dr Heba Ahmed holding a MOF created with high-frequency sound waves.

Dr Heba Ahmed holding a MOF created with high-frequency sound waves

MOFs have boundless potential, but we need cleaner and faster synthesis techniques to take full advantage of all their possible benefits,” Ahmed, a postdoctoral researcher in RMIT’s Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory, said. “Our acoustically-driven approach avoids the environmental harms of traditional methods and produces ready-to-use MOFs quickly and sustainably. “The technique not only eliminates one of the most time-consuming steps in making MOFs, it leaves no trace and can be easily scaled up for efficient mass production.

Metal-organic frameworks are crystalline powders full of tiny, molecular-sized holes. They have a unique structuremetals joined to each other by organic linkers – and are so porous that if you took a gram of a MOF and spread out its internal surface area, you would cover an area larger than a football pitch. Some have predicted MOFs could be as important to the 21st  century as plastics were to the 20th.

During the standard production process, solvents and other contaminants become trapped in the MOF’s holes. To flush them out, scientists use a combination of vacuum and high temperatures or harmful chemical solvents in a process called “activation”. In their novel technique, RMIT researchers used a microchip to produce high-frequency sound waves. Co-author and acoustic expert Dr Amgad Rezk said these sound waves, which are not audible to humans, can be used for precision micro- and nano-manufacturing.

At the nano-scale, sound waves are powerful tools for the meticulous ordering and manoeuvring of atoms and molecules,” Rezk said.

Source: https://www.rmit.edu.au/

Huawei is launching “Hongmeng” to replace Android

China’s Huawei is in the process of potentially launching its “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) to replace the U.S. Android OS, an executive said on Thursday, after Reuters reported that the company has applied to trademark the OS in various countries.

Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecoms network gear, has filed for a Hongmeng trademark in countries such as Cambodia, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand, data from the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows. It also filed an application in Peru on May 27, according to the country’s anti-trust agency Indecopi. Data from a U.N. body showed that Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is aiming to trademark the OS in at least nine countries and Europe, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets as U.S. sanctions threaten its business model.

President Donald Trump’s administration last month put Huawei on a blacklist that barred it from doing business with U.S. tech companies such as Alphabet Inc, whose Android OS is used in Huawei’s phones. Andrew Williamson, vice president of Huawei’s public affairs and communications, said Hongmeng was moving forward.

Huawei is in the process of potentially launching a replacement,” Williamson said in an interview in Mexico City. “Presumably we’ll be trying to put trademarks.”

Huawei has a back-up OS in case it is cut off from U.S.-made software, Richard Yu, chief executive of the company’s consumer division, told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview earlier this year. The U.S. official, meeting with officials in Europe to warn against buying Huawei equipment for next-generation mobile networks, said only time would tell if Huawei could diversify.

It is a fair question to ask if one decides to go with Huawei and Huawei continues to be on our entity list, will Huawei be able to actually deliver what it promises any particular client,” Jonathan Fritz, the U.S. State Department’s director for international communications policy, told reporters in Brussels.

The company, also the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones, has not yet revealed details about its OS.The applications to trademark the OS show that Huawei wants to use Hongmeng for gadgets ranging from smartphones and portable computers to robots and car televisions.

Source: http://www.reuters.com

Electric Aircraft Powered By Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Developers unveiled a hover craft billed as the first flying vehicle to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells on Wednesday in Southern California, in a show-and-tell that raised some eyebrows but never left the ground.  Massachusetts aerospace company Alaka’i Technologies has thrown its hat into the urban air mobility ring, announcing development of an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The power system differentiates the company’s conceptual five-passenger aircraft, called Skai, from other high-profile battery– and hybrid-powered designs unveiled in recent months. Alaka’i‘s concept is unique because many concepts for eVTOL aircraft would be fully or partially powered by lithium ion batteries, a market-proven but imperfect battery chemistry.

Designed by Alaka’i in partnership with BMW Group’s Designworks division, Skai will eventually be capable of carrying up to five passengers and performing missions such as disaster recovery and medical flights, says Alaka’i, which takes its name from the Hawaiian word for “leader“.

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We are moving swiftly and have developed applications for immediate testing and use this year. Our best estimate is Skai will be in practical use in the year 2021,” says Alaka’i co-founder and chief technology officer Brian Morrison.

Skai likely will first perform non-passenger missions, with full certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration to follow, he says. Skai will initially have one pilot and carry four passengers, but the company envisions the design evolving to a fully autonomous, five-passenger aircraft.

Skai will have 400nm (741km) range, ability to carry payloads of 1,000lb (454kg), flight duration of 4h and be capable of about 100kt (185km/h) speeds. Alaka’i expects an eventual Federal Aviation Administration variant of Skai will have capacity to carry five passengers. The conceptual aircraft’s three fuel cells will generate electricity needed to power six motors, each of which will drive a single lifting prop. The company calls the hydrogen fuel system safe and environmentally friendly. The aircraft’s systems will generate hydrogen by stripped it from water in a process called electrolysis.

Fuel cells use an electrochemical reaction to break hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons. The electronics travel through a circuit, creating electricity, then reunite with the protons and with oxygen to create water and heat, according to the US Department of Energy. Morrison declines to specify the state of Alaka’i’s fuel cell technology, calling that information proprietary.

Skai will carry 200 litres (53 USgal) or 400 litres of “liquid hydrogen” in onboard tanks, and refueling will take less than 10min, it says. The fuel cells will have lifespans of 15,000-20,000h of flight, says Alaka’i.

Source: https://alakai.com/
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https://www.flightglobal.com/

Drug To Replace Chemotherapy

A class of drugs is emerging that can attack cancer cells in the body without damaging surrounding healthy ones. They have the potential to replace chemotherapy and its disruptive side effects, reshaping the future of cancer care. The complex biological medicines, called antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), have been in development for decades, and are now generating renewed excitement because of the success of one ADC in late-stage testing, a breast cancer treatment called DS-8201.

The fervor over ADCs is such that AstraZeneca Plc in March agreed to pay as much as $6.9 billion to jointly develop DS-8201 with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo Co., the British drugmaker’s biggest deal in more than a decade. The investment was widely seen to be a validation of DS-8201’s potential — and the ADC class of drugs as a whole — as an alternative for chemotherapy, the most widely used treatment, for some types of cancerDS-8201, which will be filed for U.S. approval by the end of September, is so well-regarded that some analysts already predict it will surpass the $7 billion in annual sales for Roche Holding AG’s breast cancer drug Herceptin, which it aims to replace.

DS-8201 may become one of the largest cancer biologic drugs,’’ said Caroline Stewart, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, who estimates sales of the drug to eventually approach $12 billion globally, a level attained by only a handful of biologic drugs. “While the field has advanced and there are several companies focusing on ADCs, Daiichi in particular seems to have developed a unique expertise.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/

DNA Nanorobots Target Breast Cancer Cells

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 20% of breast cancers make abnormally high levels of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). When displayed on the surface of cancer cells, this signaling protein helps them proliferate uncontrollably and is linked with a poor prognosis. Now, researchers have developed a DNA nanorobot that recognizes HER2 on breast cancer cells, targeting them for destruction.

Current therapies for HER2-positive breast cancer include monoclonal antibodies, such as trastuzumab, that bind to HER2 on cells and direct it to the lysosome — an organelle that degrades biomolecules. Lowering the levels of HER2 slows cancer cell proliferation and triggers cell death. Although monoclonal antibodies can lead to the death of cancer cells, they have severe side effects and are difficult and expensive to produce. In a previous study, Yunfeng Lin and colleagues identified a short sequence of DNA, called an aptamer, that recognizes and binds HER2, targeting it for lysosomal degradation in much the same way that monoclonal antibodies do. But the aptamer wasn’t very stable in serum. So the researchers wanted to see if adding a DNA nanostructure, called a tetrahedral framework nucleic acid (tFNA), could increase the aptamer‘s biostability and anti-cancer activity.

A DNA NANOROBOT CAN TARGET BREAST CANCER CELLS FOR DESTRUCTION

To find out, the team designed DNA nanorobots consisting of the tFNA with an attached HER2 aptamer. When injected into mice, the nanorobots persisted in the bloodstream more than twice as long as the free aptamer. Next, the researchers added nanorobots to three breast cancer cell lines in petri dishes, showing that they killed only the HER2-positive cell line. The addition of the tFNA allowed more of the aptamer to bind to HER2 than without tFNA, leading to reduced HER2 levels on cell surfaces. Although the nanorobot is much easier and less expensive to make than monoclonal antibodies, it likely needs further improvement before it could be used to treat breast cancer in the clinic, the researchers say.

The findings are published  in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/

Counterpart

New experiments are revealing hints of a world and a reality that are complete reflections of ours. This mirrorverse may be able to solve the mystery of the universe’s missing dark matter.

At first glance, everything looks familiar. The clock ticks placidly on the wall, cars motor along outside your window, the story you are reading has the same eye-catching pictures. But something is wrong. The clocks are running backwards. Cars are driving on the wrong side of the road. The article you are reading is written back to front. Suddenly, it clicks. You are looking at your own reflection.

Leah Broussard leads a study of neutron decay to understand correlations between electrons and antineutrinos as well as subtle distortions in the electron energy spectrum. The physicist, who hails from Louisiana, influenced the color scheme of the experiment’s newly installed instrument to reflect her home state’s biggest celebration—its spectrometer sports Mardi Gras green on the magnet, purple on the shielding, and gold inside the magnet and on safety bars.

The uncanny world on the other side of the mirror may not seem real to you. But Leah Broussard thinks parallel universes where everything is flipped might be very real indeed. Along with her colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, she is on the hunt for a universe that is identical to our own, but flipped so that it contains mirror atoms, mirror molecules, mirror stars and planets, and even mirror life. If it exists, it would form a bubble of reality nestling within the fabric of space and time alongside our own familiar universe, with some particles capable of switching between the two.

Source: https://www.ornl.gov/

Mimicking Polar Bear To Design An Heat Insulator

For polar bears, the insulation provided by their fat, skin, and fur is a matter of survival in the frigid Arctic. For engineers, polar bear hair is a dream template for synthetic materials that might lock in heat just as well as the natural version. Now, materials scientists in China have developed such an insulator, reproducing the structure of individual polar bear hairs while scaling toward a material composed of many hairs for real-world applications in the architecture and aerospace sectors.

Polar bear hair has been evolutionarily optimized to help prevent heat loss in cold and humid conditions, which makes it an excellent model for a synthetic heat insulator,” says co-senior author Shu-Hong Yu, a professor of chemistry at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). “By making tube aerogel out of carbon tubes, we can design an analogous elastic and lightweight material that traps heat without degrading noticeably over its lifetime.”

Unlike the hairs of humans or other mammals, polar bear hairs are hollow. Zoomed in under a microscope, each one has a long, cylindrical core punched straight through its center. The shapes and spacing of these cavities have long been known to be responsible for their distinctive white coats. But they also are the source of remarkable heat-holding capacity, water resistance, and stretchiness, all desirable properties to imitate in a thermal insulator.

The hollow centers limit the movement of heat and also make the individual hairs lightweight, which is one of the most outstanding advantages in materials science,” says Jian-Wei Liu, an associate professor at USTC. To emulate this structure and scale it to a practical size, the research team—additionally co-led by Yong Ni, a mechanical engineering professor at USTCmanufactured millions of hollowed-out carbon tubes, each equivalent to a single strand of hair, and wound them into a spaghetti-like aerogel block.

The findings appeared in the journal Chem.

Source: https://en.ustc.edu.cn/

US Wants Patients To Try Experimental Drugs Against Cancer

Sally Atwater’s doctor spent two months on calls, messages and paperwork to get her an experimental drug he thinks can fight the lung cancer that has spread to her brain and spine. Nancy Goodman begged eight companies to let her young son try experimental medicines for a brain tumor that ultimately killed him, and “only three of the companies even gave me a reason why they declined,” she said. Thousands of gravely ill cancer patients each year seek “compassionate use” access to treatments that are not yet on the market but have shown some promise in early testing and aren’t available to them through a study.
Now the government wants to make this easier and give more heft to the requests. On Monday at a cancer conference in Chicago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a project to have the agency become the middleman. Instead of making doctors plead their case first to companies and then to the FDA if the company agrees to provide the drug, the FDA will become the initial step and will assign a staffer to quickly do the paperwork. That way, when a company gets a request, it knows the FDA already considers it appropriate.

We are here to help. We are not here to make a drug company give a specific drug to a patient. We don’t have that authority,” said Dr. Richard Pazdur, the FDA official leading the effort. But the agency gets little information now on how many requests are turned down and why.

Source: https://apnews.com/

Microwave Stimulated Nanoparticles To Fight Efficiently Cancer

A physicist at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has proposed a new concept for treating cancer cells. In a recently published paper in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine, UTA physics Professor Wei Chen and a team of international collaborators advanced the idea of using titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles stimulated by microwaves to trigger the death of cancer cells without damaging the normal cells around them.

The method is called microwave-induced radical therapy, which the team refers to as microdynamic therapy, or MDT. The use of TiO2 nanoparticles activated by light and ultrasound in cancer treatments has been studied extensively, but this marks the first time researchers have shown that the nanoparticles can be effectively activated by microwaves for cancer cell destruction—potentially opening new doors to treatment for patients fighting the disease. Chen said the new therapy centers on reactive oxygen species, or ROS, which are a natural byproduct of the body’s metabolism of oxygen. ROS help kill toxins in the body, but can also be damaging to cells if they reach a critical level. TiO2 enters cells and produces ROS, which are able to damage plasma membranes, mitochondria and DNA, causing cell death.

Cancer cells are characterized by a higher steady-state saturation of ROS than normal, healthy cells,” Chen said. “This new therapy allows us to exploit that by raising the saturation of ROS in cancer cells to a critical level that triggers cell death without pushing the normal cells to that same threshold.

The pilot study for this new treatment concept builds upon Chen’s expertise in the use of nanoparticles to combat cancer.

Chen’s collaborators hail from the Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences and Beihang University. The team conducted experiments that demonstrate the nanoparticles can significantly suppress the growth of osteosarcomas under microwave irradiation.

While TiO2 and low-power microwave irradiation alone did not effectively kill cancer cells, the combination of the two proved successful in creating a toxic effect for the tumor cells. Microwave ablation therapy has already proven to be an effective treatment against bone cancer, obtaining better results than MDT. However, MDT has applications for combatting other types of cancer, not just the osteosarcomas used for this pilot case.

Using light to activate ROS—as is seen in photodynamic therapy—can be challenging for the treatment of tumors deeply located within the body; in contrast, microwaves lend the ability to create deeper penetration that propagates through all types of tissues and non-metallic materials.

This new discovery is exciting because it potentially creates new avenues for treating cancer patients without causing debilitating side effects,” Chen said. “This targeted, localized method allows us to keep healthy cells intact so patients are better equipped to battle the disease.

Source: https://www.uta.edu/