This therapy stops serious conditions from being passed down from mother to child. In this case, the five-month old boy was born to a Jordanian mother who was at risk of passing down a fatal and debilitating genetic disorder called Leigh Syndrome, which affects the developing nervous system. The mother had previously lost two children to the disorder, so she sought the help of John Zhang, a researcher at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City. As noted in New Scientist, Zhang performed the procedure in Mexico, where “there are no rules,” adding that “[saving] lives is the ethical thing to do.”
Mitochondria are the powerpacks that fuel every human cell, and just like the nucleus, they contain DNA. Unfortunately, inherited defects in mitochondrial DNA can cause severe or even fatal results. To overcome this problem, scientists extract two eggs—one from the mother and one from a donor. The nucleus of the donor egg is removed, leaving the mitochondria intact, and replaced by the mother’s nucleus. The resulting embryo is free from the inherited defect, resulting in a potentially healthy baby—albeit it with three parents.
Zhang and his colleagues tested the baby’s mitochondria, and found that less than one percent contains the harmful mutation. It usually takes about 18 percent of mitochondria to be affected before problems set in.
More important are the questions of safety and efficacy. Running off to Mexico to perform a procedure because it’s still illegal in the United States may push the science forward, but it’s clearly sending the wrong message.
Elon Musk finally revealed his plans for a mission to Mars today. But a new set of images from SpaceX show the Interplanetary Transport System going even further in the solar system than the Red Planet.
As we speculated yesterday, the plans for the ITS do, indeed, go well beyond Mars. Musk confirmed an interest in traveling elsewhere in the solar system, especially to Europa, during his speech today—and SpaceX confirmed in a tweet and with this new artwork, as well.
In the latest renderings from SpaceX, you can see the ITS heading past Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, and also Saturn’s rings. Other destinations appear to include Titan, Enceladus, Europa, or others. But before the ITS can make it way out there, the spacecraft has to show that it can get to Mars first.
SpaceX plans to build a “self-sustaining city” on Mars, according to its founder Elon Musk. But, while we now know a lot more about how SpaceX plans to get to Mars, details about how people will actually survive up there remain sketchy.
Musk dropped the news on Tuesday during an address at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he had promised to reveal how the company planned to send people to live on Mars.
“I don’t have an immediate doomsday prophecy,” said Musk, but he noted that he saw only two possible paths forward. “One path is to stay on Earth forever, and there will be some extinction event. The alternative is to become a multi-planetary species, which I hope you will agree is the right way to go.”
Right before the presentation, SpaceX released a mini-preview of what we could expect from its new Interplanetary Transport System. The system was previously called the Mars Colonial Transporter, until just a few weeks ago,when Musk changed the name after suggesting that it could take us to other destinations in the solar system.
As noted earlier, the video gives us a pretty good idea of the sequence of events for how the system would work:
In the video, first, we see the rocket lift-off from Cape Canaveral’s Launchpad 39a with 28,730,000 pounds of thrust behind it. After stage separation, the spaceships parks in orbit while the booster returns to Earth—where it lands. A propellant tanker is loaded onto the booster to refuel the spaceship in orbit for its trip to Mars. The tanker returns to Earth and the spaceship heads for Mars. The solar arrays deploy and the ships coasts until it finally enter Mars’ orbit. The ship lands on the Martian surface and then we get a glimpse of the astronauts looking out onto the Martian plains.
What we didn’t see in the video, however, is any kind of infrastructure that would support those astronauts to keep them alive after landing. Based on Musk’s comments, it sounds like SpaceX intends to send colonizers to a permanent city on the Red Planet. With 1,000 ships and 200 people per ship, Musk estimated that it would take 40 to 100 years to achieve a fully self-sustaining civilization on Mars.
One of the big barriers to doing that is the cost, which Musk estimated at about $10 billion. The SpaceX founder detailed four ways that he believed a ticket to Mars would become a possible purchase for many people—similar to buying a house. These methods include using reusable rockets, refuelling the spaceship in space, and using a methane fuel instead of traditional rocket fuels. Finally, that methane fuel could be harvested on Mars itself.
We also learned quite a bit about the rocket and what it would be like to travel to Mars. Just like the Falcon 9, the rocket booster on the Interplanetary Transport System will land and be re-used. (SpaceX has landed a number of its Falcon 9 rockets after flight, but hasn’t yet flown one of the used rockets back into space.) A key feature of the rocket re-usage plan is to send their Mars rockets back into space, so seeing a Falcon 9 rocket successfully make a second trip will be critical to convincing people that the plan is plausible.
The new SpaceX rocket will be incredibly large, dwarfing even the company’s Falcon Heavy and the world’s last tallest rocket, the now-defunct Saturn V.
If being locked into a spaceship for months at a time with a bunch of your fellow humans sounds a little grim, though, Musk says not to worry. “It’ll be, like, really fun to go—you’ll have a great time,” he says. Key to doing that will be making the inside of the rocket comfortable for the long ride, which for initial trips will last 80 days. Musk says that he eventually believes a trip could be brought down to a single month.
But whether this is really doable depends a lot on whether SpaceX can actually get the money together. “I would say it’s going to be a challenge to fund this whole project,” Musk noted. He spent a lot of time today talking about the economics of an individual ticket, which he said could drop as low as $100,000.
Musk hinted that he would personally be devoting assets to the project. “I really don’t have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets, except to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary,” he said. But even then, there would still need to be significant outside investment.
“I know there’s a lot of people in the private sector interested in funding a trip to Mars, hopefully there will be interest in the government side as well,” Musk said. “Ultimately this will be a huge private-public partnership.”
How quickly all this could happen would, in large degree, depend on whether that funding comes through at all. But if the money is there and all goes as planned on the technical side, Musk said we could see Mars flights begin as soon as 2023—although he cautioned that the timeline was still in-flux. He also kept to SpaceX’s original date for when we would see Red Dragon missions head to Mars in 2018 with payloads between 2 or 3 tons.
But while he described the project as a “self-sustaining city,” Musk did not go into detail about the kind of long-term infrastructure that would keep people alive once they got there.
“The goal of SpaceX is really to build the transport system,” said Musk, before suggesting that the Martian colonists themselves would do much of the building. “Who wants to be among the first to build everything, from refineries to the first pizza joint?” Musk asked.
But before we can build a pizza joint on Mars, people will need a whole lot of other things, including but not limited to clean and usable water, a space habitat capable of withstanding Martian environments, some kind of transport, and presumably some more people who would eat there. Musk also failed to explain who—if anyone—is actually going to build and maintain that basic infrastructure. Without it, the plan is unlikely to succeed.
For what it’s worth, Musk says that he’d like to make the trip to Mars himself—but only after putting together a Plan B for his company, in case of disaster. “I would definitely like to go to orbit and visit the space station and then ultimately go to Mars,” he said. “I have to make sure if something goes wrong on the flight and I die there’s a good succession plan and the mission of the company continues.”
If SpaceX’s plans to get to Mars do succeed, though, we could be looking at trips even further out. As I noted yesterday, Musk has hinted at the possibility of using this transport system to go beyond Mars—and it appears that future plans could be heading that way.
“If we have a propellent depot, you can go from Mars to Jupiter, no problem,” Musk said. “It means full access to the entire greater solar system.” He noted a particular interest in traveling to Europa.
The first step, though, would be establishing regular travel—or even a first trip—to Mars. And to see if that’s really possible, we’ll have to wait.
This Woman Lived With a Mystery “Pregnancy” for 3 Years
Warning: The images in this post are graphic.
By Sarah Schreiber
Sep 27, 2016
When Margaret Mcmahon, 48, of Belfast, Ireland, first sought medical attention in 2013 for a bloated stomach and abdominal pain, she was diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), a common, albeit uncomfortable disease.
Mcmahon, however, was not experiencing the routine bloating associated with the syndrome. She was living with what felt like a perpetual pregnancy, symptoms (a ballooning belly and frequent urination) and all. Mcmahon told the Sun, “It was like having a never-ending pregnancy except when you’re pregnant you’re going to have a baby at the end.”
Mcmahon’s stomach before being properly diagnosed.
After years of chronic pain in her hip and lower back and an emergency room visit, Mcmahon, a teaching assistant and mother of two, became suspicious that IBS was a false diagnosis. No longer able to experience normal life, she had to stop work and her social life “because there was so much pressure on my bladder.” She even complained of feeling sick after eating and remembers acute, stabbing abdominal pain towards the end.
Since doctors had yet to crack her case, she took matters into her own hands. She eventually insisted on a private CAT scan, which she paid for out of pocket. The diagnosis that followed validated her concerns.
As it turns out, fibroids are remarkably common in women over 30 (so common that most adult women experience fibroids at some point!), but are usually too small to cause pain or swelling. If they are larger, which occurs in about 25% of white fibroid patients and 50% of African American fibroid patients, lengthy, heavy periods, constipation, pelvic pain and pain with intercourse are common symptoms.
Mcmahon’s uterine fibroid was approximately seven inches long.
Mcmahon, however, was the unfortunate exception. At its largest, the mass was 18 centimeters (or about seven inches) long and had grown to the size of a watermelon. Three years of misdiagnoses and alarming symptoms led to an unavoidable hysterectomy.
After years of not being able to “drive even five minutes down the road without needing the bathroom,” Mcmahon was thrilled to return to the life she led before her uterine fibroid. Following her hysterectomy in March, she was able to enjoy a vacation in Spain with her family for the first time in years.
Self-driving cars. Some are horrified by the prospect. Others are excited. Whatever you think of them, however, they’re on their way. We’ve got the technology, and governments are working even now on putting legislative infrastructures in place which will allow their use. Quite what form these infrastructures will take remains to be seen – but it looks pretty certain that the first commercial driverless cars will be hitting a road near you pretty soon. One day, you may even own one yourself. Or possibly not, if driverless technology changes vehicle ownership trends (as it may well do…). Plenty of people think that driverless cars will bring sweeping changes to the world in their wake. This might be true, it might not – it all depends on what legislation accompanies their advent, and how the public receive and use them. However, let’s go out on a limb and have a look at some of the changes which could, potentially, take place with driverless cars…
General Motors’ Firebird II was described as having an “electronic brain” that allowed it to move into a lane with a metal conductor and follow it along
The industry most obviously and immediately affected by driverless technology will be the transportation industry. If your vehicle drives itself, it does not need a driver, after all. Lots of people are worried that this will put those currently employed to drive out of a job. However, this may not necessarily be the case. After all, while a driverless lorry may be able to get your parcel to your street, it can’t carry it to your door and get your signature. And while a driverless bus may be able to get you from A to B, it can’t provide security, or answer your queries about tickets. While there may well be technological solutions around both of these problems, it also seems likely at the moment that governments will insist on having someone qualified to take manual control of any driverless commercial vehicle on board while the vehicle is in operation – whether or not they are actually driving it themselves. So the outlook for bus drivers and delivery people isn’t as bleak as it may seem!
Ownership May Alter
For private vehicles, it could transpire that people will come to see cars as more of a service to be called up as and when needed rather than as individual possessions. If you can direct your car by remote control, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be out and about transporting other people from place to place when you don’t need it yourself. This poses some interesting questions for the private car industry. For example, if you can happily co-own a car with a group of other people, and if none of you are actually driving the car themselves, how will the current system of needing to be insured on the car you drive work? Will vehicle companies offer subscription services via which users can call up cars when they need them, rather than owning their own – like a remote control taxi, only cheaper? All very interesting, and something that the automotive industry is currently working upon rather feverishly!
The Volvo S60 Drive Me autonomous test vehicle is considered Level 3 autonomous driving.
If you can send your car off to park itself, and call it back when you need it, the problem of parking suddenly ceases to be an issue. Indeed, we could potentially free up an awful lot of land space currently occupied by car parks which must needs be within walking distances of houses, shops, workplaces etc. If self-driving cars could take themselves to a single depot when not actively transporting people, that eliminates at a stroke the necessity for shopping center and office car parks. You could even grub up your drive and turn it into a garden, or convert your garage into a games room!
As you’d expect, proponents of driverless vehicles currently claim that they’ll be a lot safer than what we’ve got at the moment. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen – but it’s almost certain that the safety specs for driverless cars will be different to those of manually driven cars. For a start, they’re likely to have electric engines, which are considerably smaller than petroleum-driven engines. While they’ll need space for the computer tech which will drive the car, these can also be rendered pretty small. So spacious hoods to house hefty engines simply won’t be needed. Currently, there’s a good argument for keeping a large ‘crumple zone’ regardless of what’s under the hood, as it helps to protect passengers during head-on collisions. However, the likelihood is that driverless car passengers will be in the back rather than the front of the car, meaning that the vehicle as a whole can be a hell of a lot smaller without sacrificing any ‘crumple zone’ advantages.