If there is one part of the body that we too often neglect, it’s our pearly whites. Forget to brush them? It’s not the end of the world. After all, they can now be 3D printed. But if you’d prefer to keep them, at least invest in an automatic toothbrush. Because treatment for aches and rotting can sometimes break the bank, doctors from Wuhan University are working on alternatives. Now, green tea extract can treat tooth sensitivity.
The compound is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC), and it is the most active polyphenol in green tea. Previous studies have shown that this compound can effectively battle S. mutans.
The scientists encapsulated this mix into so-called mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN).
To break it down, MSNs can effectively resist cavity-inducing acids and are superior in strength. They are the Justice League of dentin.
The material “significantly [inhibited] the formation and growth of S. mutans biofilm on the dentin surface,”
The application technique is called confocal laser scanning microscopy, which is just about as easy to say as that ridiculous town in Wales. All tongue twisters aside, we can show more enthusiasm for the green tea industry. Although I do remain on the fence about tea lattes from Starbucks.
Extreme medical emergencies will often require major procedures. Sometimes, they call for replacement organs, which can now be lab-grown. While they may be effective, they aren’t always practical. Luckily, researchers from Fudan University have created bendable batteries that are implantable in humans.
The team created two flexible design batteries; one being a “2D” belt comprised of electrode films over a steel mesh, and the other being a carbon nanotube fibre weave with nanoparticle electrodes – both of which “showed excellent performance”.
Most lithium-ion batteries used in implants are flammable and pose safety hazards. The new flexible material is completely non-toxic and is safe to use on the brain. It can help restore the mobility of patients with spinal injuries, among other things.
The carbon nanotube in the battery converted dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions at an accelerated rate which can starve cancerous cells.
Yes, you heard right — the batteries can treat cancer. Electrodes on the mechanism can tackle places that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach. But as with everything experimental, we have to play the waiting game, as the batteries are not yet available. On the bright side, most discoveries are occurring consecutively, which means they could go commercial sooner than we think.
These days, thanks to science, impossible means nothing. Because of nanochip technology, we can repair damaged organs in a single touch. We can even remedy blindness by mimicking the functions of fish eyes. And much to the delight of millions, probiotics may be able to cure peanut allergies.
A course of probiotics combined with an oral immunotherapy treatment using peanuts in kids who are allergic to the nut cured them for at least four years.
After a number of carefully controlled peanut-munching sessions, study founder Mimi Tang requested a follow-up four years later. Out of 12 children who participated in the original study, 7 remained allergy-free.
“We had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanut in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying a lot of anxiety with that,” Tang said. “And at the end of treatment and even four years later, many of these children who had benefitted from our probiotic peanut therapy could now live like a child who didn’t have peanut allergy.”
Peanuts are the most common allergen in the world and can often be deadly. For the unfortunate ones who have never experienced the delight of a Snickers bar, the moment may come sooner rather than later.
After discovering the indestructible 100 Year Hoodie, I didn’t think I’d come across anything equally as durable. Of course, the Internet is notorious for proving me wrong. Best Made Co’s Dyneema backpack claims to be stronger than steel — and only 40 are on the market.
According to DSM, the Dutch company that first manufactured the miracle fiber 27 years ago, Dyneema is up to 15 times stronger than steel and 40 percent stronger than aramid fibers such as Kevlar.
Dyneema is present in stab-proof armor, crane slings, yacht sails, boat cables, and other industrial-strength products. It’s no wonder the backpack has a plethora of mind-blowing features.
It has water-resistant zippers. It has metal hardware, a coated cotton-twill interior, a 40-liter clamshell main compartment, a reinforced laptop compartment, two large side pockets and a quick-access brain pocket.
And just like the 100 Year Hoodie, the Dyneema Patrol Pack is likely to outlive you. Manufacturing a backpack this imperishable may seem extraneous, but could be valuable to lovers of the great outdoors.
Michelin may be developing an airless tire, but in the meantime, flats are a real issue. Changing a tire, especially in areas such as highways, can be a pain. Harvard scientists have created a type of self-healing rubber that could change the way we deal with minor road accidents.
In order to make a rubber self-healable, the team needed to make the bonds connecting the polymers reversible, so that the bonds could break and reform.
Typical rubber cracks under pressure. Cracks in hybrid rubber are connected by fibrous strand, snapping back when stress is released.
“Imagine that we could use this material as one of the components to make a rubber tire,” [creator] Wu said. “If you have a cut through the tire, this tire wouldn’t have to be replaced right away. Instead, it would self-heal while driving enough to give you leeway to avoid dramatic damage.”
Of course, with every new technology, there is always more to explore. We’re not sure whether Michelin or Harvard will pull through first, but both are definitely off to a great start.
In science nowadays, if you can dream it, you can believe it will exist within the next few decades. After all, mending a broken heart is no longer just a metaphor. If you were a fan of the 2004 hit “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, you’re in for a treat. Erasing memories associated with fear is now possible, thanks to professors at the University of California and a bunch of mice.
“Using low-frequency stimulations with light, we were able to erase the fear memory by artificially weakening the connections conveying the signals of the sensory cue – a high-pitch tone in our experiments – that are associated with the aversive event, namely, the foot shock.”
The technique is called optogenetics. Scientists use light to “edit” genetically modified brain cells until fear signals are wiped completely. After initial testing, mice with an initial fear of high-pitched noises no longer responded to triggers. Sadly, the method doesn’t apply to human brain cells. If you’re afraid of clowns, it’s unfortunately going to stay that way. The study itself, however, remains valuable.
“This study expands our understanding of how adaptive fear memory for a relevant stimulus is encoded in the brain,”
“It is also applicable to developing a novel intervention to selectively suppress pathological fear while preserving adaptive fear in PTSD.”
It may be a bummer, but considering the speed at which we develop new technologies, we may just have to wait a while longer.
For people on the go, coffee is a must-have. While many shops offer bring-your-own-tumbler discounts, for most, a take-out paper cup will do. They aren’t the easiest to recycle, but its plastic creamer capsules that take the cake. To combat plastic pollution, scientists invented edible coffee capsules for cream and sugar. This is another feat for the coffee industry, which recently involved coffee grounds in the making of sportswear.
The capsules are made with a crystalline, sugary layer that keeps the milk sealed inside at room temperature. Once added to your drink, the capsule dissolves and unleashes the douse of milky sweetness.
There are two types of capsules — sucrose capsules for a sweeter touch, and erythritol capsules for something more bitter. The milk, if sealed, remains good for three weeks.
“The capsules could replace the small, extremely unpractical coffee creamer packaging that is used in great quantities at conferences or on airplanes,”
Creators of the Keurig cup and Nespresso pod have since expressed regret for engineering such environmentally damaging products. After all, we shouldn’t seek convenience at the expense of the environment.
Bamboo as a building material is rising in popularity. Panyaden International School in Thailand hosts a sports hall made entirely of bamboo. Now, students at the University of Hong Kong, along with the craftspeople of Peitian, have created a bamboo pavilion for local farmers.
The shelter’s concept derived from a desire to regenerate the area’s tea houses, which are used as resting spots for farmers working on the surrounding land and to provide shelter from storms in rainy seasons, or from the sun during the hottest part of the day.
The structure pays homage to traditional bamboo weaving, an art form that has seen great decline over the years. While students incorporated digital software to map the structure’s features, locals managed to assimilate traditional techniques.
“Historically, these pavilions were often used by craftsmen to demonstrate their skill or to trial new construction methodologies. Today these structures have, for the most part, been replaced by generic outbuildings in concrete and brick,”
With only one surviving bamboo weaver in Peitian, the pavilion is a valiant attempt to keep Chinese customs alive.
Realizing the effects of climate change has encouraged new methods of producing clean energy. Kenya is turning human waste into cooking fuel. Michelin is manufacturing an airless, biodegradable tire. Now, an Italian startup is distributing an eco-box that provides water and power to remote areas across the world.
The box itself is a simple container, measuring six by six by six feet. With solar panels on top and water treatment inside, it can help remote communities with both off-grid energy and easily accessible filtered water.
Off Grid Box’s container can provide an entire family of four with filtered water for just 12 cents. A single unit can distribute battery packs to nearly 300 families. Each pack can run three LED lights for up to 4 hours and fully charge two mobile phones.
The new business model is getting a thorough test in Rwanda, where the startup plans to install units in 18 villages. The government has commissioned 14 contractors to work on rural electrification, and Off Grid Box is partnered with three of them so far. By 2020, it hopes to be serving 420,000 end-customers.
The company has yet to find its rhythm in terms of sales, but Off Grid Box’s future looks bright. Conceivably, it’s time for big buyers to care less about trivial machines and start thinking about the technology poorer communities need.
Amidst the abundance of millennial-bashing headlines are young adults proving their talent to older generations. Earlier this year, an astronomy student managed to photograph Jupiter using a Game Boy. A few days later, an eighth-grader created a device that produces clean energy from traffic. Just today, I got wind of Dylan Knight, a student who is revolutionizing the world’s laundry habits. By simply changing a single part of the device, he created a sustainable washing machine that could drastically cut carbon emissions.
The simple change… would replace the [machine’s] concrete with an empty plastic container, which could then be filled with water to act as a counterweight once the washing machine has been placed.
The invention could save 45,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide on the 3.5m washing machines sold in the UK each year.
That’s a weight off anyone’s shoulders — and literally! The plastic container fulfills its concrete counterpart’s exact function, which is to keep the machine from vibrating too hard.
“Concrete is actually quite bad for the environment due to the CO2 released when it’s produced. The use of concrete is also the reason why washing machines are normally very heavy to move.”
The invention proves that it doesn’t take a genius to create environmentally friendly alternatives to damaging products. It may be time we give our “reckless” youth a bit more credit.