January 20, 2018

Week In STEM-11th July

Japan vs USA In Robot Wars

​After a pair of American robot makers challenged their rivals in Japan to a mega duel involving their mechanical creations, the corresponding team in Japan has responded without hesitation: ‘Bring it on’.

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Birth Of A New planet

Astronomers are following what could be the birth of a new planet 355 light years away. The astronomical phenomenon would be the first of its kind to ever be discovered. First observed in 2013, this planet, called HD 100546, is a gas giant with similarities to Jupiter, our solar system’s gas giant.

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Modified Mosquitoes To Reduce Disease Spread

Dengue fever is a viral disease which is spread by mosquitoes; causing sudden fever and joint pains. To combat this diease, millions of genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in the Brazilian city of Piracicaba. The GM mosquitoes are all male, and when they mate with native females, they pass on a gene to offspring that causes the larvae to die before they mature.

The GM mosquitoes also carry a gene that makes the larvae they sire glow red under ultraviolet light, which allows scientists to see by eye how well the strategy is working.

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KNUST Wins DFID-Royal Society Award

Out of a total of  five consortia which won the first round of the DFID- Royal Society Awards, senior members form KNUST make up 3. Each consortium comprises three African Universities and a UK University. The Royal Society-DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative is a £15.3 million partnership initiative between the Royal Society and the Department for International Development (DFID) to develop collaborative research consortia between scientists in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Plastic Waste To Bio-Diesel

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has manufactured a Pyrolysis Reactor which converts plastic waste into bio-diesel. The reactor, which is yet to be formally exhibited, was manufactured by the Physics Department of the university, spearheaded by a doctorate student, Sam Frank Jnr.

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Genetic Maps Target Ivory Blackmarkets

Ivory is a valuable commodity on the black market, encouraging the killing of elephants for their tusks. Poaching has many costs to local communities, including a high human toll, as armed poachers kill not just the endangered animals but also anyone standing in their way. This audio feature examines how mapping slight differences in the DNA of elephant groups all over Africa is helping investigators detect poaching hotspots and protect the mammals from the ivory trade.

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Traditional Medicine In Modern Times

Artemisinin, which is extracted from Artemisia annua (Chinese sweet wormwood), is the basis for the most effective malaria drugs in the world. Worldwide as more people turn to traditional remedies and the development of new drugs slow, the questions needs to be asked; what can modern medicine learn from traditional remedies

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First Computer Prototype Mimicking Human Brain

At its most basic level, a memcomputer is a computer that solves problems by crunching numbers and storing results simultaneously, rather than as completely separate processes, as is done with all modern computing machines. In that respect, it should work much more like the .A combined team of researchers from the University of California and Politecnico di Torino in Italy has built, for the first time a working prototype.

To create their prototype, the researchers had to come up with a completely new computer design, one based on what the team calls memprocessors—their prototype has six of them. The memprocessors have the ability to change their own properties—one of which is electrical resistance—depending on things such as how much energy is passing through. That allows the processors to store information in a new way, even as the processor continues processing

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Teenage Girls Build Private Satellite

As opposed to a group of specialist engineers or inventors handling this project as expected, the creation of Africa’s first private satellite is being powered by a group of teenage South African girls.

The satellite, which will launch in the first quarter of 2016, is not only a celebration of African innovation, but a positive shift in participation of the African girl child who would have, in the past, let the “geeky boys” handle it.

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People Age At Different Rates

A study of nearly one thousand 38-year-olds found that while most had biological ages close to the number of birthdays they had notched up, others were far younger or older.

Researchers used 18 physiological markers, including blood pressure, organ function, and metabolism, to assess the biological age of each of the participants. For some, the past dozen years had taken no obvious toll on their body’s biology. But others were not so fortunate. A good many participants had biological ages in the 50s.

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Nigerian Brothers Develop Fast Alternative Browser

Nigerian brothers Osine and Anesi have developed an Android web browser. Inspired by Google Chrome, they named their browser Crocodile Browser Lite which has been described as a a functional, fast browser for feature and low end phones.

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Wind Power Exceeds Expectation

So much power was produced by Denmark’s windfarms on Thursday that the country was able to meet its domestic electricity demand and export power to Norway, Germany and Sweden.

On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%.

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Nitous Oxide Alters People’s Brainwaves

NO gas

Nitrous oxide has been used for hundreds of years in anesthesiology, and in recent times has emerged as a recreational legal high, but until now no one has been quite sure of how the drug, commonly known as laughing gas, actually alters people’s brains. Researchersfrom MIT have been able to reveal, however, that the drug makes key changes in patients’ brainwaves.

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