Video: College of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin, one among our favourite explainers of all issues scientific, shares some latest tales from the world of science. Examine every of them beneath.
The worth of Bitcoin surged to a document excessive of greater than $60,000 final week on the again of surging demand after tech billionaire Elon Musk put $1.5 billion into the cryptocurrency in February.
The hovering worth has many environmentalists involved as a result of the method of “mining.” Bitcoin demands a huge amount of energy as huge banks of computer systems work to unravel advanced issues which permit blocks of transactions to be chained collectively. As these issues are solved, Bitcoin miners are then rewarded with new Bitcoins.
“With Bitcoin, what they do is that they mine it utilizing laptop algorithms — laptop issues that have to be solved. And what it takes is big computing energy,” mentioned Shubin. “So, what you may have are these entire laptop server farms consisting of a whole lot of computer systems arrange around the globe to mine for Bitcoin. The problem with that’s that’s consumes a ton of power … significantly within the final 12 months when Bitcoin use has gone manner up.”
In accordance with the College of Cambridge’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, Bitcoin mining now consumes extra power than the complete nation of Argentina.
Zebrafish mind lights as much as the music of MC Hammer
An Australian neuroscientist and DJ has recorded what occurs to the mind of a zebrafish because it responds to the sounds of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Contact This.” The result’s a shocking video that exhibits completely different components of the mind lighting up in response to the beat.
“What it’s displaying is that completely different components of the mind are energetic throughout completely different components of the track,” mentioned Shubin. “So, there’s a particular area that’s recording voice, one other one for bass and so forth. It seems there’s unimaginable complexity to the neural response to sound and music in these fish.”
Shubin mentioned the researchers are working to know the fundamental wiring of the mind to make clear the character of autism.
“They’ve had these genetic fashions for autism and that’s how they found this. They’re really how autism could have an effect on listening to and the way (the mind) processes sound and it seems zebrafish are an excellent mannequin for that.”
Self-decapitating sea slug
Scientists in Japan have found a sea slug that has a weird adaptation — it might decapitate itself and dwell on.
Researchers in Japan noticed a sacoglossan sea slug decapitate itself after which develop a totally new physique in lower than a month. After shedding its physique, the pinnacle was in a position to transfer independently and survived on algae till it grew a brand new physique.
Shubin mentioned the analysis could at some point assist scientists perceive how people might regrow broken limbs and organs.
“These creatures can construct a complete physique again from only a disembodied head. How does it know learn how to construct a complete physique again? If you consider the purposes to people with regeneration, wound-healing — that’s one thing we needs to be jealous about,” mentioned Shubin.
Mild-activated materials might result in super-efficient photo voltaic panels
Researchers at Tufts College have created a material that bends and twists towards gentle that might doubtlessly result in the event of super-efficient photo voltaic panels that may mechanically align themselves to the solar.
Shubin mentioned the gadgets have two layers of fabric — one which contracts and one which expands when uncovered to gentle — and could be good for photo voltaic panels of the longer term.
“You (might) have a photo voltaic panel that might reply to the place the solar is within the sky and transfer towards it like a plant,” mentioned Shubin. “That may be a superb manner of acquiring extra photo voltaic power from the solar.”