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Issue #3: Home Automation, Space, Slapping a chicken, viral website, source code of mRNA vaccines

Hi!

Another month has passed by, so it’s time for a new edition of this newsletter.

I didn’t publish any videos in the past month because I’m a total wasteman. Instead, this newsletter contains an extra long section of “cool stuff I found on the internet.”

Take care & enjoy!
Xavier

Recent Blog Post

No new videos this month, but I did manage to write a blog post about Home Assistant.

Good Home Automation Should be Boring

I’m a huge fan of Home Assistant to automate various things around the house. In this blog post, I outline how I approach it and why I make it boring.

Cool Stuff I Found on the Internet

Venus Could Have Been Habitable for Billions of Years

I must admit: I love space! There’s something about the size of the universe and all the unknowns that fascinates me.

This article suggests that Venus might have been very Earth-like for 2-3 billion (!) years and that it only became a hellhole in the last 700 million years.

I Cooked a Chicken by Slapping It

The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be destroyed. It is simply converted to another form. So the next logical question is: can we cook a chicken by slapping it repeatedly?

The answer is yes! Apparently, this was a meme on many internet forums, but I only discovered it now.

This guy "cooks" a chicken by converting kinetic energy into heat. Spoiler: it "only" takes 135,000 slaps!

Scientists Grow Mouse Embryos in a Mechanical Womb

Growing embryos in a mechanical womb have not been possible until now! Israeli scientists were able to grow fertilized eggs from mice and grow them for 10 days in their artificial uterus (at 20 days, they are fully grown).

Why is this important? We still have many questions about how a single cell, a fertilized egg, can grow into a living organism with trillions of cells. Studying this development in an artificial womb will speed up this research.

Inside a viral website

A ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, and someone made the website istheshipstillstuck.com. This blog post takes you behind the scenes: how it was built, how it was hosted, and what easter eggs were hidden on the site.

It received a mind-boggling 50 million visits in 5 days and was featured on many news websites.

New, reversible CRISPR method

CRISPR is a tool that allows us to edit the DNA of living organisms. But changing DNA is permanent and has an impact on your offspring.

CRISPRoff is a new technology that can suppress gene expression without changing your DNA. Researchers are now looking at ways to deploy this technology, for instance, to fight Alzheimer’s disease.


I hope you’re not tired of the COVID19-related content. It still fascinates me a lot. Here are some interesting articles:

Could an accident have caused COVID-19? Why the Wuhan lab-leak theory shouldn't be dismissed

This post talks about the possibility that COVID19 might have “escaped” from a lab where they studied viruses living in bats. To be clear: there’s no answer to that question yet.

I was surprised to read those lab accidents are not uncommon. Spooky! In the introduction of this post, the author gives the example of a worker moving broken vials of Variola across buildings. This is the virus that causes Smallpox, a deadly disease.

"Source code" of mRNA vaccines released

Researchers from Stanford have published the mRNA sequence of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines on GitHub.

Bert Hubert followed up on this by visualizing how these vaccines differ from each other (not much) and how they compare to the virus itself. Interesting!



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