It has been an amazing month for science.
MIT researchers have succeeded in printing solar panels onto any piece of paper.
Dutch company PlantLab has figured out how to triple the yield of plants using only 10% of the water typically needed:
When grown outdoors plant photosynthesis is only about 9% efficient. With the correct balance of colored LED light, PlantLab has increased that efficiency to 12 or 15%, aiming for 18%. Double the efficiency means increased yield (or more likely equal yield with less energy). By keeping the plants in a contained system, PlantLab can also recycle evaporated water, which helps them grow crops using just one tenth the water as with traditional greenhouses. Because PlantLab’s harvest is indoors, they don’t have pests (and could quickly isolate rooms that somehow got contaminated) and they don’t need pesticides. Finally, PlantLab’s production facilities can be built almost anywhere: from the Sahara to the Artic, it’s all going to look the same indoors. So everyone’s food can be grown as local as possible. That means fresher food with less costs of transportation.
PlantLab’s Gertjan Meeuws recently discussed some of the other benefits and results of their work on Southern California public radio (KPCC). He claims they’re able to increase crop yield by a factor of three so far!
Scientists at MIT have designed a drug that can cure virtually any viral infection.
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvannia have found a way of “turning the patients’ own blood cells into assassins that hunt and destroy their [leukemia] cancer cells.”
Physicists at Niels Bohr Institute maintained quantum entanglement for an hour.
Quantum entanglement means that two objects should be too far apart to effect one another but – due to quantum mechanics – change to one instantly induces changes the other.
Quantum entanglement will one day allow much better computer cryptography, form the backbone of quantum computing, and may allow for interstellar communication systems between spacefaring humans traveling among the stars, make it possible to store information in black holes, or even allow information to instantly pass from past to future.
And for the first time ever, scientists filmed (from a spacecraft) a coronal mass ejection from the sun washing over the Earth. Watch the video (40 megs, takes a while to download; the Earth is the blue ball on the left).