Chemical engineering can offer a life full of surprises, but I can honestly say that I never imagined the discipline being used to describe an extra-terrestrial life form.
But that’s the out of this world topic behind today’s blog. A team of chemical engineers and astronomers from Cornell University, US, have developed a template for life that might survive on Titan, the giant moon of Saturn.
Our imaginations for other lifeforms are often limited by the assumption that water is a requirement for life. Whilst this is true on Earth, in other, colder worlds life may exist beyond the realm of water-chemistry.
Titan has seas, like Earth, but unlike Earth these seas are filled with liquid methane. The team suggest that Titan could support methane-based, oxygen-free cells that are able to metabolise, reproduce and complete all the other functions necessary for life – as on Earth.
Sometimes the name you give your work can have a huge impact.
I recently came across this story of research from a team of synthetic biochemical engineers at Cornell University, US, who have created a new ‘on’ switch to control gene expression – a breakthrough that they think could revolutionise genetic modification – by using STARS.
Before you think I am a little confused I should point out that STARS, in this case, are Small Transcription Activating RNAs
There has been a great deal of reflection over the past few weeks about the Scottish Independence Referendum.
With 97 per cent of the electorate in Scotland registering to vote, and an eventual turnout of 85 per cent, it was a triumph for democracy and public engagement.
At the same time, it was a major wake-up call to many politicians who have rarely experienced the huge level of interest in their ‘day jobs’. In fact, arguably, many politicians were shown how to do their jobs better.
One of the major considerations when making, and buying, modern consumer products is battery life. Cheaper products generally have short battery lives. You’ll pay considerably more for better performance, but even high specification smartphones barely last more than half a day according to a recent test.