Video: College of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin, certainly one of our favourite explainers of all issues scientific, shares some current tales from the world of science. Examine every of them beneath.
The value 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 value 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 should be solved. And what it takes is big computing energy,” mentioned Shubin. “So, what you’ve are these entire laptop server farms consisting of tons of of computer systems arrange world wide to mine for Bitcoin. The problem with that’s that’s consumes a ton of vitality … notably within the final yr when Bitcoin use has gone manner up.”
In keeping with the College of Cambridge’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, Bitcoin mining now consumes extra vitality than your 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 reveals completely different components of the mind lighting up in response to the beat.
“What it’s exhibiting is that completely different components of the mind are lively 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 may be unbelievable complexity to the neural response to sound and music in these fish.”
Shubin mentioned the researchers are working to know the essential 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 will probably decapitate itself and stay on.
Researchers in Japan noticed a sacoglossan sea slug decapitate itself after which develop a very new physique in lower than a month. After shedding its physique, the top was in a position to transfer independently and survived on algae till it grew a brand new physique.
Shubin mentioned the analysis could in the future assist scientists perceive how people may regrow broken limbs and organs.
“These creatures can construct an entire physique again from only a disembodied head. How does it know learn how to construct an entire physique again? If you concentrate on the purposes to people with regeneration, wound-healing — that’s one thing we ought to be jealous about,” mentioned Shubin.
Mild-activated materials may result in super-efficient photo voltaic panels
Researchers at Tufts College have created a material that bends and twists towards mild that might doubtlessly result in the event of super-efficient photo voltaic panels that might 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 mild — and can be excellent for photo voltaic panels of the longer term.
“You (may) 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 might be a superb manner of acquiring extra photo voltaic vitality from the solar.”