New Science Innovations

EXPLORING NEW SCIENCE INNOVATIONS

New science innovations are a testament to human ingenuity. I’m a science fiction fan, but when future science concepts and ideas become the latest innovations to help our environment and ourselves, that is too good not to share!

This post is a celebration of human ingenuity. Armed with chocolate for me and salmon jerky for Louie, we looked at plethora of new technology and innovations in science. I could have chosen 100. 

For now, Louie and I narrowed it down to a few science innovations with the potential to help the environment, mankind, and transform the future! 

The future is now thanks to science. chocolate and salmon jerkyjpg
Louie doesn't understand that chocolate is toxic for dogs!

Let’s start with two innovations of science technology that convert the sweat on our skin into energy!

ENERGY CONVERSION TECHNOLOGY

Energy-autonomy! Imagine not needing to wait around to charge your earbuds!

Current wearable electronics like my ear pods have limited power density. Yes, I like that they’re rechargeable.

I don’t know about you but I forget to check mine regularly and end up frustrated when I’m ready to go but they aren’t.

innovative technology_Louie wishes he could use blue tooth ear buds
Louie wishes he could use earbuds

How about breezing past potentially leaky, explosive, toxic, chemically polluting batteries in the store aisle! Fewer batteries in landfills sounds great to me. 

We need to recycle batteries–no one wants lead, mercury, cadmium, manganese, lithium, zinc, nickel in our waters–but you get my point.

 

Energy Conversion Technology
To read about an amazing species that eats plastic and may help our landfill crisis, click here!

How about no more button batteries for young children or animals to accidentally ingest?

This is horribly, terribly fatal.

Sorry, Everready, I'm all in.

Ideally, what would we want from an energy-harvesting device?
A cormorant waiting to harvest energy from that human.
Consider the advantages of a device that relies on constant, passive input from the human body
THIS SOUNDS AS IF THE TECH WILL SUCK US DRY!
DON'T BE AFRAID
A device that is not dependent on an irregular external environment
Such as solar power needed on a cloudy day.
A device that is not reliant on movements or exercise
(In an ideal world)
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Two types of tech are racing to find a viable solution to this issue. (Technically, the researchers are working hard, not the tech!)

The first one uses passive fingertip sweat. Fingertip sweating sounds pretty random. How can that even be a new science innovation, you ask? I asked the same question…

PASSIVE PERSPIRATION BIOFUEL CELL

The device is a thin, flexible strip. A padding of carbon foam electrodes absorbs sweat and converts it into electrical energy. The electrodes are equipped with enzymes that trigger chemical reactions between the lactate and oxygen molecules in sweat to generate electricity.

new science innovations biofuel cell
This thin device would feel like a band aid

What is the region of our bodies w/ the greatest sweat gland density?

Palms and soles of feet! (You probably could have guessed feet!)

Fingertips can produce between 100 to 1000 times more sweat than most other areas on the body.
Biofuel Cell uses passive sweat
What's special about this sweat-fueled device is that it generates power even while the wearer is asleep or sitting still.

As the wearer sweats or presses on the strip, the electrical energy gets stored in a small capacitor. You can use it as a mini battery and discharge the energy to small electronics as needed.

WEARABLE THERMOELECTRIC GENERATORS

Thermoelectric generators are small, wearable devices that directly convert low-grade heat to electricity.

Unlike the storage biofuel cell above that collects energy to use later as a charger, a thermoelectric generator powers your small electronics while you’re wearing it. 

thermoelectric generators power fitbit_future science
If I had a fitbit, Louie would steal it.

Okay, this is a narrow distinction. You are technically wearing the biofuel cell but it doesn’t charge a device while you wear it. It’s sucking your sweat for later.

Thermoelectric generators convert heat directly into electricity.
The use of + and - ions from sweat (Na+, K+, and Cl−) are absorbed onto the surface of the electrode and take part in the electrochemical reaction.
Click Here
Admittedly, this isn't as pretty as a diamond ring...
Would you chose a diamond? Click here!
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RADIOISOTOPE THERMOELECTRIC GENERATORS (RTG)

I am presenting thermoelectric generators as future tech but technically, the tech is not new. (Tech three times in the same sentence. How annoying is that?) 

This innovative technology is new as a wearable thermoelectric generator, but spacecraft are already wearing them!

On the right is a radioisotope thermoelectric generator courtesy NASA. (who else!)

Thermoelectric generator for Cassini
This wouldn't fit on your finger
Instead of heat from sweat, spaccraft such as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 utilize the heat generated from radioactive decay of Plutonium-238.
Click Here
RTG's are sensible for spacecraft traveling to the outer solar system
...where the intensity of sunlight diminishes below the level usable for solar panels!
One pound of plutonium generates a half million kilowatt-hours of energy
That would power a blender for 100 years!
The temperature difference between this heat generated and the cold of outer space produces electricity to power the spacecraft.
It's too cold to sweat in space! Unless, you're nervous going on that first space walk.
Both Voyagers are now over 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the Sun
More on Voyagers here
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Voyager I below from–you guessed it–NASA.

Let’s come back to Earth but stick with the 3D angle. We’ll do that by making sense of an innovative technology with mind-blowing applications.

3D printing is cool, but how about 3D printing living tissue!

 

3D BIOPRINTING (PRINTING LIVING TISSUE)

When I started my research with one of our kid’s school logins, my initial search found 30,684 articles about 3D printing.

WHAT? Not ‘what, you’re hacking school websites?'( I have permission…) ‘What,’ as in 3D printing is innovative technology extraordinaire.

3D printers now make shoes, furniture, tools, and toys. Clearly, I needed to narrow my search to new science innovations in 3D printing.

Anger
You're using my login?

FIRST, WHAT IS 3D PRINTING?

3D Printing is an umbrella term for the creation of a 3D object using various additive manufacturing approaches.
Vague, I know!
The most common material used is liquid plastic
Plastic is squirted out of an inkjet-like printing head, layered into a pattern that solidifies, creating a 3D object.
Plastic isn’t the only medium used.
3D printing of orthopedic prosthetics enables companies to create medical implants, from jaws to long bones to plates for skulls.
This is called direct-metal laser sintering.
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BACK TO BIOPRINTING

Recent advances in the fields of engineering, biomaterials science, stem cell biology, physics, and medicine have combined their brilliant efforts to advance 3D bioprinting of living tissues! 

 

Kidding aside, the applications for this innovative technology are endless!

From growing ears to skin for burn victims to drug testing to replacing organs!
In 2020, researchers printed a 3D brain to allow tumor cells to infiltrate. They were able to better study the tumor cells development and use different drugs on the cells. Far easier than working on rat brains! The rats appreciate it, too!
Click Here

The process usually starts with a 3D structure called a scaffold. The scaffold  supports cells as they grow and develop.

Skin, blood vessels, bladders, trachea, esophagus, muscle and other types of tissue have been successfully engineered!

3D Printed ear scaffold
Ear scaffold

TISSUE ENGINEERING

Tissue Engineering is the science of growing replacement organs and tissue in the lab to replace damaged or diseased tissue.
Bioink is the material used to produce live tissue using 3D printing technology.
(the purple stuff in the next slide)
Bioinks rely on a combination of several polymers so chemical, physical, and biological constraints are respected. Polymer examples include collagen, hyaluronic acid, alginate.
Click Here
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Solid organs — such as the liver, kidney, heart and pancreas — are especially challenging and are considered the “Holy Grail” of tissue engineering. I believe that future science such as 3D organ generation is within our grasp, thanks to science research.

Let’s switch gears (pun intended) and investigate  another science innovation in physics!

Sound_waves need a medium
FIGHTING FIRES WITH SOUND

SONIC FIRE EXTINGUISHER

That video below of flambeing scallops is making me hungry, but hopefully that chef has a fire extinguisher nearby.

If they do, have they checked it lately? Fire extinguishers are full of corrosive chemicals, have a discharge time of only 8-20 seconds, and make a huge mess.

Fire, its impact and relationship to mankind goes back to prehistory. There are many books and articles dedicated to this topic. 

Fire is our best friend but also our worst enemy. (Take a look at the root cause of forest fires here)

innovations in science forest fires
courtesy Wikimedia

Water fights fires because water eliminates the oxygen fire needs. Sound waves can do the same thing!

HOW?

So how could sound possibly put out a fire? It has to do with what sound is.

WHAT IS SOUND?

When we think about sound, we default to how loud it is (amplitude) and its pitch (frequency).
If any of your kids decided the trumpet was their passion, you know exactly what I mean!
Sound can drown you in…well, sound.
Sound waves are longitudinal waves that travel through a medium like air or water.
Sound is a vibration. Sound needs to vibrate against something. aka air or water.
When an airplane flies at or above the speed of sound, air molecules cannot move out of the way of the airplane fast enough, so the pressure waves combine to generate a large shockwave, which people on the ground hear as a sonic boom.
Click here for more on the science of sound
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Is the speed of sound always the same?

IOW, a constant like the speed of light?

NO!

The speed of sound changes with atmospheric conditions such as altitude, temperate, and humidity.

FIGHTING FIRES WITH SOUND

The acoustic extinguisher works by using sound waves!

Remember that sound is a vibration pushing against our eardrum. (also good to remember when your kid is deciding on the middle school instrument)

This new science innovation pushes oxygen away from the source of a flame and spread it over a larger surface area.

New Science innovations_Sound waves to fight fires_bass
The acoustic fire extinguisher puts out flames using low frequency bass (30 to 60Hz) without relying on water or chemicals.
This device was originally developed for household fires.
The sound wave extinguisher could be used in space. Since traditional extinguishers used in zero gravity spray contents in all directions, it’s incredibly difficult to target a flame. Sound waves can be directed without gravity!
Water is still our #1 defense for forest fires.
However, the sonic extinguishers could create acoustic boundary lines that prevent forest fires from spreading.
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Time to shrink it down. This emerging science innovation (don’t do a find for how many times I used the word ‘innovative) is microscopic, but geared globally.

LIVING CONCRETE

You’re asking, why does this sound in any way interesting? Concrete is boring.

burning calories at rest
Louie doesn't care about concrete...but we did run out of salmon jerkky!
Environmentalists often focus on issues such as
Animal agriculture, fossil fuels. and plastic production
They should!
Fortunately, researchers are looking at ways to make our infrastructure more sustainable, too.
Concrete is the second most used material on earth after water.
Manufacturing concrete uses a lot of energy.
Click Here
Concrete is made from cement
And I'm sure you've seen firsthand that concrete does not last forever.
We need to fill the cracks.
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The cause of this horrific 2021 disaster is unclear to date, but I think you’d agree that the photo implies concrete failure.

Self-healing concrete make sense of science
Concrete deterioration is evident

So what are scientists developing to heal the cracks?

They are using bacteria! Yes, the bricks are green, too! (see slides below)

Science innovations_Cyanobacteria used to make living building materials
Cyanobacteria living inside concrete!
Scientists are developing a bacterially induced precipitation of calcium carbonate as a self-healing strategy for concrete cracking.
Click Here
Cyanobacteria survive extreme environmental conditions, including high and low temperature, salinity, and humidity.
A thick book, all about cyanobacteria!
By incorporating bacteria and calcium source nutrients in a concrete matrix, bacterially mediated calcium carbonate deposition was triggered when cracks formed.
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Think of that? Living inside something alive!

The future is now thanks to science AK raft
I like it!
New science innovations _AK plane
That's more advanced than these instruments!

Speaking of mashups like bacteria and concrete, how about brain cells and computer chips?

innovations in science sounds cool KJK
Sounds cool to me!
new science innovations_Computers and brains work via electrical impulses
Extremely cool!

ARTIFICIAL NEURONS

Designing artificial neurons that respond to electrical signals from the nervous system like real neurons has been a major goal in medicine for decades.

Neurons are electrically excitable cells in the nervous system that process and transmit information.
In vertebrate animals, neurons are the core components of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
Unlike many other types of cells, neurons do not reproduce.
Their DNA copying is blocked.
More on DNA repoduction here
So the importance of neurons cannot be stressed enough!
Neurons are responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, for sending motor commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step between.
Imagine curing conditions where neurons are not working properly, have had their processes severed as in spinal cord injury, or have died!
Neurons don't come back!
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SILICON CHIP PLUS NEURONS

Silicon is a perfect inert substrate for culturing nerve cells.

When nerve cells grow on a chip, they deposit cell adhesion proteins to provide cell anchorage.

Researchers aim to make synthetic neurons to repair biocircuits of the central nervous system
Click Here
Cardiac pacemakers and cochlear implants successfully use artificial electrical stimulation
Why not take it further?
Silicon chip
Inset with neurons adhering to the media
This methodology would work well in patients with heart failure
Neurons in the base of the brain may not respond properly to nervous system feedback, they in turn do not send the right signals to the heart, which then does not pump as hard as it should.
more here
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New science innovations are a testament to human ingenuity. From generating electricity from our sweat to saving lives with sound to helping those with chronic illness have a better quality of life, the future is now, thanks to science!

Which one of these innovations in science strikes you the most? Let me know in  comments! Hearing from you makes me happy! 

Save the forests science blog
Louie likes putting out fires with sound the best.

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56 thoughts on “New Science Innovations”

  1. I’ve never heard of thermoelectric generators before but what a cool concept! I had no idea such a thing existed. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post 🙂

    Reply
  2. I like the idea of neurons on chips. And organ printing sounds amazing. It’s like a book I read. We could extend life spans beyond the telomere limit you talked about in that other post. Thanks for this cool post.

    Reply
    • I read a book like that too. The protagonist was a clone, being raised for his organs. House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer. Anyway, I agree! Tissue engineering is cool. Thanks so much.

      Reply
  3. As you know, Flora has a monthly science subscription box but I’m glad to say, although I find the concept of putting out fires with sound, that’s not an experiment we’ve had to try yet! Science is amazing though, and posts like this prove it!

    Reply
    • Flora is a lucky girl to have a mom who encourages her interest in science! I agree, putting out fires with sound is amazing tech. I hope we’ll see it on the shelves in this decade. Thanks, Lisa!

      Reply
  4. Wow honestly all these inventions are amazing! For most of them I had no idea they even existed. The only thing I was aware of was the 3D printing but I guess I knew it cause is a bit old.
    Thank you for sharing all these information about such geat inventions!

    Reply
  5. This was so interesting to read! Thank you for sharing all about these new science innovations! Great post, as always! 🙂

    Reply
  6. The passive perspiration biofuel cell sounds interesting, but I wouldn’t have though you’d sweat much from your finger tips, as that would stop us holding stuff. But if tapping can generate powered, then I think most people could charge the world through just messaging on their phones alone

    Reply
    • That would be cool, to tap our phones and charge our devices. Although people would need to put them on their thumbs, not pointer fingers! Maybe we can charge up the biofuel cells with our laptop keyboards instead. Thanks so much!

      Reply
  7. The sonic fire extinguisher sound amazing, like how can you use sound waves to put off fire without making noise? I love all the innovative technologies but this is insane.

    Reply
  8. Love the post. One of your best. I especially like the 3-D printing to use as a template for Replacement tissue for burn victims etc. This would especially help someone improve their own self image. Great work. Keep it up! Mike

    Reply
    • I’m with you on that! Self-image can’t be underestimated in that situation. And hopefully we’ll all have sonic extinguishers on hand as a preventative measure. Thanks so much.

      Reply
    • Definitely mind-boggling. Even as researchers struggle towards the Holy Grail of tissue engineering of organs, they can achieve great strides with 3D printing less complex living tissues! Thanks.

      Reply
  9. These all sound so cool but the most interesting to me is 3D printing of living tissue. How amazing is that? Wow, science is just the best!

    Reply
  10. 3D Bioprinting just blows my mind! I remember hearing about it and I thought what an innovative idea because that would be amazing for so many people. So interesting to read more and I think passive perspiration Biofuel cell is mind blowing, amazing what science can do.

    Reply
  11. Science is truly amazing and the technology we have and do things we didn’t even think were possible. This was such an interesting article. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Lauren

    Reply
  12. Sue, these are so fascinating! Batteries powered by sweat and the ability to make living tissues blow my mind. Thanks for the information. Ever think about writing a story set in the future where you incorporate these?

    Reply
  13. I think not my day today. I did hard-core technology. I suck at technology gadgets and everything to do with it so can’t add my critic today. But i did learn a few things if not much, and loved the bioprinting and fire extinguisher. Didn’t hear bioprinting before. Thanks for such a detailed post. Xx
    Isa A. Blogger
    https://bit.ly/39f9FN0

    Reply

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