futurism.com | A “Hangover Free” Alcohol Alternative is Under Development

A Guiltless Pleasure?

Alcohol, though widely enjoyed by a lot of people, is known to cause several health risks and complications. Globally, alcohol misuse is the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability.

But developments from Imperial College Professor David Nutt claim to be on to a solution by synthesizing Alcosynth. The drink is said to be a healthier option to give drinkers that sociable buzz without the dry mouth, nausea, and throbbing headache. Previously reported formulas of alcosynth listed a derivative of benzodiazepine as its active ingredient. However, Professor Nutt claims that his formula does not contain the drug. In fact, his formula is “a closely guarded, patented secret.”

“It will be there alongside the scotch and the gin, they’ll dispense the alcosynth into your cocktail and then you’ll have the pleasure without damaging your liver and your heart,” Nutt said in a report by The Independent. He also comments that “they go very nicely into mojitos.”

Nutt believes that alcosynth will revolutionize public health, and that by 2050, it will have completely replaced conventional alcohol.

Image credit: Thinkstock
Image credit: Thinkstock

Alcosynth Safety

However, alcosynth is being closely monitored for potential health risks. Nutt defends alcosynth research, saying that it is non-toxic and grounded in extensive research on how substances affect the brain. “We know where the good effects of alcohol are mediated in the brain, and can mimic them…by not touching the bad areas, we don’t have the bad effects.”

He states that the formula could be tweaked to set a maximum effect, meaning that, unlike alcohol, a person’s “drunkeness” could only be compounded to a specific point.

Even so, we need to verify these claims and move forward cautiously. If the drink works as intended, it would be welcome news for responsible drinkers looking to avoid the downsides of the morning after, but that “if” needs to be removed prior to it being released for consumption.

To that end, to date, extensive data is not readily available, and it will be very important for research to focus on the intended effects as well as any possible unintended ones. Moreover, even if alcosynth does eliminate hangovers, it is important to remember that it still does not claim to remedy all of the other ways intoxication is dangerous (impaired judgement, drunk driving, etc.) to drinkers as well as those around them.

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futurism.com | It’s No Longer a Question “If” We Will Colonize Mars, but Merely “When”

Heading to Mars (and beyond)

The Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) is one of SpaceX’s in-development rockets that is set to be part of CEO Elon Musk’s Mars colonization plan. When Musk tweeted that the MCT would need a new name since it could “go well beyond Mars,” many of his followers came up with suggestions in an attempt find one that would do the project justice.

He even jumped in on the naming frenzy with his own suggestion: “Maybe Ultimate Spaceship, Version 2? Mostly because it is not the ultimate and there isn’t a version 1.”

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Recently, one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets exploded on its launchpad during a routine pre-launch test firing, reportedly due to a glitch in its helium pressurization system. SpaceX is being slapped with a $50-million bill (either that or a free flight) for the AMOS-6 satellite the Falcon 9 was carrying.

In spite of this hurdle, Musk is moving forward, and will be at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) tomorrow to present his speech entitled, “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species.”

It’s becoming apparent that SpaceX is not the only company taking the Mars colonization plan seriously.

Artist's concept of Mars One astronauts and their habitat. Credit: Bryan Versteeg/Mars One
Artist’s concept of Mars One astronauts and their habitat. Credit: Bryan Versteeg/Mars One

Only A Matter of Time

A few days ago, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016, a bill that ensures space exploration projects will be allocated a $19.508 billion budget for fiscal year 2017. It requires that NASA make it an official goal to send crewed missions to Mars in the next 25 years.

While NASA and SpaceX are collaborating on the Red Dragon capsule, NASA is building their own rocket (the biggest one ever) and aiming it at Mars. One contender in the race to Mars colonization is United Launch Alliance, whose Atlas V was selected by NASA for its Mars 2020 mission. Non-profit organization Mars One, another contender, declares that they “will establish the first human settlement on Mars.”

With the “when” of it all moving ever-so-closer, it’s only a matter of who will win the race to the Red Planet.

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futurism.com | Elon Musk Just Unveiled a Key Piece of His Plan For Getting Humanity to Mars

Here’s what we know so far about Elon Musk’s plan for getting humanity to Mars—he believes a million people must colonize Mars so that the human race will survive, and to make that possible, he continues to invest his time (and his money) in his aerospace company SpaceX.

So far, SpaceX has been dedicated to making the next-generation rockets. And they have been wildly successful.

However, exactly how a million humans will travel to Mars so that the planet can serve as a “backup drive” for Earth in the event of a major catastrophe is still largely a mystery. Hopefully, this is something that will be fully discussed tomorrow, as the world primes itself for his big announcement at the International Astronautical Congress to be held in Guadalajara Mexico. But we don’t have to wait that long to get some information.

Earlier today, Must took to Twitter to give the world the first glimpse of a powerful rocket engine that will apparently play a huge role in his “Interplanetary Transport System (ITS).”

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/780275236922994688/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Musk’s photo shows the rocket in a static fire test, which is desired to measure performance. He also adds a few tidbits of the Raptor’s test-firing details, noting that “Production Raptor goal is specific impulse of 382 seconds and thrust of 3 MN (~310 metric tons) at 300 bar.”

So just how powerful is the Raptor? It apparently has 675,000 pounds of thrust. That’s three times as powerful as the Falcon 9’s Merlin engines, making it the biggest and leanest rocket developed in SpaceX’s 14 year history.

One can only assume that the Raptor is designed to be attached to a massive multistage rocket (one that will likely be heading to the Red Planet).

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futurism.com | Monsanto Just Got the First CRISPR License to Modify Crops

Accelerating Agriculture

Eradicating hunger is second on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals list. Food security is one of the world’s most pressing issues, and the journey toward wider access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food is driven by rigorous research, but also shrouded in controversy.

To that end, agriculture giant Monsanto has licensed CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology from the Broad Institute for use in seed development, the company announced on Thursday. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a way of editing DNA, a technology that is able to snip specific parts of the genetic code in order to modify the characteristics of an organism.

“Genome-editing techniques present precise ways to dramatically improve the scale and discovery efficiency of new research that can improve human health and global agriculture,” said Issi Rozen, Chief Business Officer of Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Monsanto’s partner organization in the CRISPR agreement.

Gene editing in crops could makes food production more convenient and beneficial. Accelerated crop growth, resistance to pests and inclement weather, and higher nutritional benefit could be made possible.

Evolutionary Hijacking?

The agreement between Monsanto and Broad Institute comes with many restrictions linked to long-standing criticism surrounding genetically-modified organisms.

Monsanto cannot use the technology for the gene drive, a controversial technique where geneticists force a trait to an organism and its line of descent. While maintaining positive traits may sound promising, gene drives may doom other species to extinction. Experimentation with this technology has shown many unpredictable results.

The company was also prohibited from the creation of sterile seeds. In this manner, the genetically altered crops cannot bear fertile seeds, so farmers would have to keep buying them from seed companies.

Critical ecological balance is so closely linked to what and how we plant and sow. In the pursuit of sustainable and accessible food supply, studies on genetic modification are more imperative than ever.

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futurism.com | Say Hello To Your Very Own Smart Weather Station

SKY detects rain gives real-time wind speed and direction, and measures UV index.

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futurism.com | Going Green: Microsoft Pledges to Run on 50% Renewable Energy by 2018

Big tech companies like Microsoft are up to all sorts of impressive research in the fields of artificial intelligence, medicine, and robotics. But to power all that, you need, well, power. Sometimes our environment really pays for this innovation.

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One of Microsoft’s data centers, a massive consumer of power. Microsoft Green

To solve this problem, Microsoft is going green. The company just announced new targets for its renewable energy use, pledging to run 50% on green energy by 2018. Early in the next decade, Microsoft hopes to be at 60%, then continue increasing each subsequent year. It is looking at a mix of solar, wind, and hydropower for its needs.

Right now, 44% of Microsoft’s needs are supplied by green energy, and it signed a new deal to bring 20 megawatts of new solar energy onto the grid in Virginia earlier this year. The company is also working on green energy research, such as better battery technologies.

Companies aren’t just focusing on shifting to renewable energy to help the planet be more green, though. Some are placing data centers at colder locations to mitigate cooling, and Microsoft is even looking at storing them underwater. Google just developed machine learning algorithms that minimize energy and coolant use in real-time.

Really, it won’t just be individuals or governments at the frontline in the battle against climate change—even big companies are looking to join the fight.

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futurism.com | Breakthrough Initiatives [INFOGRAPHIC]

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