Here are four good news about how science has improved our lives in recent weeks.
- A group of scientists has found a way to create nanodiamonds from PET plastics.
- A universal vaccine against COVID-19 is about to be tested in humans.
- There are new findings about the power of performing random acts of kindness.
- A woman with a keen sense of smell has helped create a simple test to diagnose Parkinson’s.
Watch the video above for the full rundown and all the details, or keep reading:
1. A group of scientists has found a way to create nanodiamonds from PET plastics.
Making diamonds out of plastic sounds like a fairy tale, but an experiment originally conceived to better understand planets known as ice giants like Uranus and Neptune has led to an unexpected discovery.
Scientists were investigating a phenomenon called “diamond rain,” which is thought to form due to the unique mix of elements within these planets.
To do this, they did some experiments using PET plastic, the polymer found in containers such as water bottles, which is made of a mixture of hydrogen and carbon.
The PET plastic allowed them to mimic the process that happens inside ice giants by creating high-pressure shock waves with an optical laser.
Scientists got very excited when high-pressure shock waves on plastic produced tiny synthetic diamonds.
What is really extraordinary is the clarity that was seen in the results, says Prof. Dr. Dominik Kraus of the University of Rostock, who participated in the experiments: “A large fraction of the carbon atoms become diamonds, and very quickly, in a few nanoseconds.
“Also, when the pressure is released, the diamonds remain. And that means there are ways to get them back and make them applicable to maybe use them for other things,” he told Euronews.
Artificial diamonds share many of the most important properties of natural diamonds, so as well as being very beautiful, they have potential applications for quantum technology and medicine.
The study has revealed a new and efficient way to produce nanodiamonds using the same cheap PET plastics that end up in landfills every year, which could be great news for our planet.
2. A universal vaccine against COVID-19 is about to be tested in humans.
For years, leaders and scientists have complained about the lack of funding to develop vaccines to protect us against present and future viruses.
But COVID-19 changed things.
Since the start of the pandemic, millions of dollars have been poured into research groups seeking universal coronavirus vaccines.
What exactly would a universal COVID-19 vaccine do? It would defeat any variants that might appear in the future, as well as any future diseases caused by entirely new types of coronavirus.
The good news is that long before we had even heard of alpha, delta and omicron, some visionary people started working on this universal vaccine.
One of those people is Alexander Cohen, a doctoral student at the California Institute of Technology, who, along with other researchers in his lab, is getting very close to the target.
The initial results look really promising.
In March this year, the group reported that the vaccine appeared to protect mice and monkeys that had been exposed to a range of coronaviruses. In July, they published the results in Science.
The next step is to test the vaccine in humans, and the funding for this is already underway. If successful, it could prevent us from having to endure another COVID-related lockdown.
3. There are new findings about the power of performing random acts of kindness.
When was the last time you did or received an altruistic act?
Carrying out small acts of kindness makes everyone happy: those who give and those who receive. The strange thing, however, is that the world’s Good Samaritans tend not to realize how happy they make people, according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Researchers believe this could be preventing many of us from doing nice things for others more often, meaning people are missing out on opportunities to feel good and make others feel good too.
They conducted experiments with hundreds of people, giving and receiving altruistic acts, such as treating a stranger to coffee or a cup of hot chocolate, and in all of them, the performers of these acts of kindness systematically underestimated how positive they would make someone feel. others.
The idea that being kinder can increase our well-being is not really new. Many studies have already shown that willingly helping others generates positive emotions for both parties.
But experts say each new finding strengthens the idea, making it a stronger scientific argument, not just something that seems logical.
4. A woman with a keen sense of smell has helped create a simple test to diagnose Parkinson’s.
Joy Milne insisted that her husband’s scent had changed 12 years before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. And she was right.
“Interestingly, when I wake up in the morning I don’t open my eyes, but I smell what’s around me,” he said.
A team from the University of Manchester put their incredible sense of smell to the test and discovered that Parkinson’s disease does indeed have a particular smell. Thanks to her, they have now developed a test that could determine in just three minutes if someone has Parkinson’s disease.
“We make a swab on people’s backs, and then we take it to the mass spectrometer, where we analyze the compounds of the skin, and from them we can find out if someone has Parkinson’s or not,” Professor Perdita Barran, explains to Euronews. who led the investigation.
“Our goal is to make what is called a confirmatory diagnosis so that the specialist can help you get the right treatment.”
Until now there was no specific test for Parkinson’s, and the diagnosis was based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history.
All this is about to change, with a simple cotton swab.
If you liked this summary of good news and want to know more, tell us in the comments and share our stories with your friends.
And remember, it can be hard to find them in the headlines, but some news is good news.