Vattenfall is Working to Produce Eco-Friendly Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles

One of the leading factors contributing to climate change is the modes of transportation we all use. Specifically, cars are to blame. So many of us drive to work, back home, and so on each day. All those carbon emissions add up quickly. Interestingly, though, one organization is exploring a creative way to upend that paradigm. According to The New York Times, an energy company in Germany called Vattenfall is working to produce hydrogen-powered cars that can get people from point A to point B with far lower emissions rates.

There’s just one problem: the company is struggling to find customers. When a Times reporter went to visit the place, the only people using Vattenfall’s hydrogen fueling stations were its own employees, who were learning to fill up the company car. The difficulty is that hydrogen-fueled vehicles are still in the prototyping stage, and there are a number of kinks still to work out. Consumers are concerned about safety risks, high costs, and the possibility that electric vehicles might be the better option. For all of these reasons, hydrogen cars still face an uncertain future.

“We do see some expectations that were not met,” said Klaus Bonhoff, Germany’s head of hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

While it’s been slow to catch on, hydrogen vehicle technology certainly has its advantages to consumers. Hydrogen-powered cars have a longer range than gasoline- or diesel-fueled vehicles, meaning they don’t have to be refueled as often, and when they do need to be refueled, the process is easier and faster. In addition, the actual propulsion of the car is simple, as it merely consists of hydrogen fusing with oxygen. The only waste emitted is clean water vapor.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the public is truly ready for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Part of the problem here is a perception issue; people have been afraid of hydrogen-powered automobiles ever since 1937, when the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg airship exploded in New Jersey. It may take a long time before people are willing to take a leap of faith. Industry insiders, though, maintain that the public will eventually come around.

“If you look back 100 years, we had horse carriages and steam engines,” said Barnaby Law, director of hydrogen and fuel cells at Airbus. “There is no future fuel without pain.”

Boeing Hopes to Make United States a Leader in Space Exploration Again

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For over a century now, Boeing has been in the business of designing commercial aircrafts and helping people travel the world. At present, though, the company is focused on an entirely new challenge: space. Boeing’s new focus in the 21st century is designing spacecrafts that NASA astronauts can use to visit the International Space Station in a cost-effective manner. 

According to The Washington Post, this effort has made a lot of progress. However, June brought a significant setback, as one spacecraft they were testing had a propellant leak during a test of its emergency abort system. The leak, which was found during a trial exercise at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, is expected to delay the scheduled launch of Boeing’s latest spacecraft.

“The engines successfully ignited and ran for the full duration,” the company said in a statement. “During engine shutdown, an anomaly occurred that resulted in a propellant leak.”

Boeing added that it has “been conducting a thorough investigation with assistance from our NASA and industry partners. We are confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action.”

Boeing is under contract to engineer space station flights along with SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company. Boeing’s deal is worth around $4.2 billion, while SpaceX’s is closer to the neighborhood of $2.6 billion. The hope is that the two companies will restore NASA’s capability to send humans into space; at the moment, the U.S. is reliant on Russia to coordinate those flights at a cost of over $80 million per seat. Boeing is hoping to run test launches of their new rockets with crews on board by the end of this year.

At NASA, though, there is cause for concern about astronaut safety. That remains the top priority, regardless of the financial pressures involved.

“Flying safely has always taken precedence over schedule,” NASA said in a statement. “As our partners are finalizing their systems, we’re assessing remaining technical details and schedules for flight tests with and without crew.”

Can Elon Musk Lead the Next Big Breakthrough in Space Travel?

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Fostering innovation in space travel is all about striking a delicate balance. On one hand, it’s only natural to want to push the envelope, transcending the limits of what mankind previously thought possible. That’s the mentality that put the first man on the moon. On the other hand, safety is absolutely essential. No one wants to put astronauts’ lives in danger. According to The Washington Post, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is one of the leading forces behind 21st century space exploration, but the company is having trouble finding that balance between innovation and safety.

Musk and his team have been hard at work optimizing their “Falcon 9” rocket, and their latest idea is a super-cold propellant that will fit more easily into fuel tanks. It’s a great idea, but it also happens to come with a major risk: extreme temperatures could potentially cause an explosion while astronauts are onboard the craft. The more powerful rocket might have unprecedented capabilities (a Mars landing is one possibility) but the risk is making government officials think twice about embracing it.

“NASA is supposed to be a risk-taking organization,” USC professor Greg Autry told The Washington Post. “But every time we would mention accepting risk in human spaceflight, the NASA people would say, ‘But, oh, you have to remember the scar tissue.’ They were talking about the two shuttle disasters.”

Autry refers, of course, to NASA’s loss of 14 astronauts’ lives combined in its two failed space shuttle missions—the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003. The last thing anyone wants to see is more deaths due to space travel. Concerns about the Falcon 9 have been running high ever since September 2016, when one such rocket blew up during fueling for an engine test. NASA officials couldn’t help but think: What if astronauts had been board?

For Musk, one of the great innovators of our time, solving this dilemma will be a key challenge moving forward. There’s a great deal of hope that Silicon Valley technology can fuel the next major breakthrough in space travel, but at what cost?

HSS Provides Top Tier Orthopedic Surgery for 7th Year Running

Doctors examining an x-ray

The HSS has earned its place as the #1 orthopedics hospital in the country for the seventh year running.
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If bones are your concern, you’ll definitely want to go to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The HSS has been ranked #1 in orthopedics in the US for the seventh consecutive year by US News & World Report. The HSS also ranked #2 in the nation for rheumatology. In addition, HSS supports several big-name sports teams in New York and has a 150-year history of forward-thinking surgeries and technologies.

The HSS is also known for its strong leadership, from Dr. James A. Knight, the first Surgeon-in-Chief in 1863 to a far-reaching board, including Alex Crisses of General Atlantic, today.

That innovative leadership is what’s earned the hospital its reputation for top-notch orthopedics for seven years in a row. In 2015 alone, the HSS cared for more than 150,000 patients with both surgical and non-surgical needs, including joint pain, trauma and sports injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and spinal disorders, and many others.

“Autoimmune diseases and disorders affect nearly 50 million Americans, and patients looking for a specialist want to be confident that their physician has the highest level of expertise,” said Dr. Mary Crow, physician-in-chief and chair of Division of Rheumatology. “HSS is the largest academic medical center dedicated to bone, joint, and systemic autoimmune conditions, and…we are advancing treatments and cures for patients everywhere.”

The HSS has been in the orthopedics business for more than 150 years, training some of the finest surgeons in the country. It began in 1863 in the home of Dr. James A. Knight. Later, with the help of philanthropic donations, the hospital expanded into its own building. Its mission has always been to serve New York residents from diverse populations who aren’t getting the healthcare they need.

Their work today has broadened to include serving a variety of sports teams in the area, including the New York Mets, the New York Giants, and the New York Liberty. Not only does the HSS provide medical assistance to players; it also donates time, effort, and staff to a variety of community programs aimed at honoring hardworking community members and providing opportunities for women, low income children, and other underserved populations.

The work HSS does in orthopedic surgery and rheumatology is hugely important for the population of New York. As evidenced by the repeated honors, the hospital continues to value hard work and innovative techniques, as well as high quality leadership.


Happy Cows Have More Calcium

Two Jersey cows

A recent study found that Jersey cows injected with serotonin produced more calcium-rich milk.
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Do you remember those ads about how happy cows make better milk? Turns out they were on to something. A recent study has shown that happy cows can produce milk with more calcium. This is accomplished by giving those cows serotonin shots.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter connected to happiness, so it follows that happy cows have more serotonin, and that leads to more calcium in their blood or milk. Calcium is an important part of our diet, and in the West we get almost all of that from dairy products, so dairy farmers are under pressure to produce milk which is high in calcium. But it’s draining on the cows–so draining, in fact, that dairy cows often develop hypocalcaemia, a disease caused by insufficient calcium.

A recent study found that Holstein and Jersey cows, two of the most common dairy breeds, had improved calcium levels following serotonin treatments. But there’s a hitch: while the Jerseys had more calcium in their milk, the Holsteins had it in their bloodstream. So while happy Jerseys seem to be what we’re looking for, happy Holsteins aren’t any more useful to farmers.

Of course, this is only one study, and the first of its kind. The team who performed it is interested in doing more studies to figure out how to both keep cows from developing hypocalcaemia and help them produce more calcium-rich milk. And if serotonin can be used to prevent that disease, then it would go a long way toward keeping milk high in calcium. Since high calcium milk is in such demand, this would help farmers stay in business.

Since serotonin is something cows need in the first place, it’s unlikely that the introduction of serotonin treatments would have negative side effects. No additional hormones were needed to keep the cows with serotonin treatments producing milk as normal during the study.