Zendri Antibiotic - Big Pharma

Troubles with Antibiotics

Mentatul Monthly Focus
October 2019 Edition
– Antibiotics –

The antibiotics industry is going through rough times. Big Pharma is heavily polluting Asia, where India and China are the main producers of the world’s most commonly used drugs.
But it’s even worse when companies give up researching new antibiotics because these sort of medicine doesn’t give enough profit.


Energy in 2019: Fusion, Fission and More

Mentatul Monthly Focus
March 2019 Edition
– Energy –

Fusion is the holy grail of energy generation. It’s clean and the necessary fuel, hydrogen, is literally everywhere. Unfortunately, replicating the Sun’s mastery of fusion isn’t exactly a piece of cake.

1. The largest investment our species has banked on fusion is using a technology called tokamak. Unfortunately, the experiment called ITER is not doing very well.

2. Can we get lucky with the other type of fusion reactor, the stellarator? There’s good news about Wendelstein 7-X.

3. How can supercomputing help us?

4. Is clean(er) fission energy possible? Is Thorium worth it?

5. Renewable energy trends for 2019.

Neutrino Detector

Ricocheting Down the Neutrino Alley

Neutrinos are among the strangest elementary particles. Or at least we call them elementary particles until, some time in the future, we’ll discover that they are also composed of various other smaller components. But until then, scientists are sparing no efforts in trying to understand them (an understanding that could and will probably be invested in new technologies, for example detectors for large bursts of energy release).

Super Earth Kepler

Aliens on Super Earths Require a Lot More Smarts to Get in Orbit

Now that we got a new planet hunter in orbit (TESS), we’re bound to find many more Earth-like planets. And, judging by discoveries so far, it’s quite likely that a lot of these planets will be super Earths, that is, terrestrial planets with a mass higher than Earth’s.

One of the most interesting and often-overlooked problem with super Earths concerns their gravity. These planets are big, meaning that their gravity would make it very difficult not only for potential human settlers to land or take off again, but also for any intelligent species that might develop there and attempt space travel.

Uranus Smells

Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Recently, scientists have come up with some interesting conclusions about the gas giant’s atmosphere. Thanks to infrared observations, they managed to detect a certain gas that is quite likely to be present towards the top of Uranus’ cloud cover. Hydrogen sulfide is what gives rotten eggs their charming smell.

I always thought Uranus is a beautiful name for a planet. But then my English improved and, at one point, the punchline hit me. I still think it’s a beautiful name. I mean, the human body is beautiful, isn’t it? In English, it’s a beautiful funny name for a planet, so that makes it even better. Still, it makes it really difficult to say that I come from Uranus. Journalists across the web raced in coming up with the most memorable way to report the analytical news.

NASA Experiments

Interesting NASA Experiments

There’s some pretty interesting human activity going on in outer space during this period. For example, NASA recently launched InSight, yet another probe heading for Mars (yes, I do believe we’ve spending a bit too much on Mars). Along with that, they also launched two cubesats, the world’s first interplanetary such (cheaper) satellites. “MarCO-A and MarCO-B are demonstrating a number of cubesat technologies during their nearly 7-month cruise to Mars, including a folding high-gain antenna and a cold-gas propulsion system.”

The Dance of the Planets

The Dance of the Planets

Draw a line between the position of two planets every several days and behold the apparition of beautiful shapes.

The article lists some other funky coincidences about the planetary bodies in our solar system. It’s written in a slightly “new age metaphysical” tone, but facts are facts and these are undoubtedly interesting facts. Personally, what I draw from all the above is a feeling of complete agreement with what a wiser person has said before me: “Mathematics is the language of nature” (and I perceive even physics and chemistry as flavors of mathematics).

Best of 2017

Best 99 Things That Happened in 2017

There’s a lot of negative news out here, and for good reason I’d say. The world has indeed improved since a century ago, but we as a species know we can do better. I’m happy to see that people strive in that direction by wanting to improve and shouting about those things that are obviously wrong with our civilization.

But here’s a list of good news from around the world. And all of these happened in one, single year!

Earth's Tune

Earth’s Humming a Little Tune

Well, it’s only “little” when considering the ultralow frequencies involved. In fact, it’s a massive tune. It’s a world-wide phenomenon and probably as old (thus long) as the Earth itself. The linked article summarizes years of research into a perpetual hum that has been detected in places such as Antarctica, Algeria and on the floor of the Indian Ocean.

The coming decades will clarify the relation between our body and certain facts about the environment on this planet, particularly previously-hidden “features” such as this humming. I’m going to keep my ears on the ground for more news about the Earth’s song. See what I did there?