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Hibernation in Space: Possible or Purely Fiction?

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astronaut in an orange suit

Space hibernation – it’s an idea many creative minds have pondered for a long time. In fact, some science fiction movies have shown sleeping humans going for a ride in space. The theory is this: when people are put into sleeping chambers, they can survive the long travel to a different land. In movies, actors would wake up on another planet where humans can live on.

But is it really possible? As interesting as the theory sounds, fiction is far from reality.

For one, sending humans to space is still considered a logistical nightmare. For that alone, space hibernation can be a thing of fiction. And because of new research, it is likely that it will remain that way.

Why space hibernation?

Sending astronauts to space is one of the human race’s most outstanding achievements. Working around the lack of gravity in space has been a grueling task for researchers. Apart from daily needs such as food, astronauts’ physical and mental well-being in space is hard to maintain. 

That’s why up until now, sending people beyond the Moon is still largely unsolved.

One of the solutions to bypass the issues with this is space hibernation. When put into a sleep-like state called torpor, humans can lower their metabolism and sleep while waiting to complete their journey.

The concept has intrigued scientists so much that researchers from the European Space Agency conducted a feasibility study. Their findings? Some scientific hurdles make space hibernation out of reach for humans. 

Can we put humans to sleep in space?

Induced hibernation is something sci-fi geeks are familiar with. But details on how to go about it often remain unclear. Thankfully, Roberto F. Nespolo and Carlos Mejias have found new data on the possibility of humans saving energy while sleeping.

The two examined the relationship between body mass and the amount of energy used by animals hibernate. Their research found a minimum level of metabolism that enables cells to continue living in low-oxygen environments. 

Small animals like ground squirrels and bats have an easier time conserving their energy. Critters like these burn more than 25 percent of their body weight during their sleeping period. However, the math doesn’t work the same for humans and even bears.

Using statistical analysis, the two were able to find that the daily energy expenditure of hibernating animals is more or less the same, regardless of their tissue mass. 

However, they found a point where hibernation does not make a huge difference in saving energy for more active and bigger mammals. In fact, they said that our total energy needs while hibernating aren’t all that different from when we are resting. 

According to their research, when the calculations are scaled to bigger mammals, hibernating does not save much energy. The two scientists revealed that our energy levels would be the same as when we were resting.

Bottom line

Astronaut hibernation is a concept that scientists have been looking into for years. But unless we figure out how to store more body fat and replenish energy reserves in our body, space hibernation will not happen just yet. Either we pack so much weight into our bodies, or we would routinely need to wake up and consume food to build up fat. 

If the goal is to survive a long slumber, the concept seems impossible. After all, dropping our heart rate and breathing while manipulating our metabolism might not give us the result we are looking for. Like bears, there is no guarantee that humans can achieve an actual torpor state.

For now, at least, we would have to keep our eyes open for other options.

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Will Artificial Intelligence Take Over? We Get Clues from DeepMind’s Gato

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finger pointing at a digitized brain illustration

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has been creeping into the tech industry for some time now. In fact, with innovations like Siri and Alexa becoming commonplace, AI is almost unavoidable. That leads us to the question: will artificial intelligence take over?

Before we ponder the idea, we must note that not all AI is created equal. For one, some systems have a more negative connotation than others. On the other hand, some advanced systems are perceived to take over the world and automate many of what humans do. 

So you might be asking yourself, is AI as scary as many say it is? Will it replace humans across various fields? The answer to that question depends on who you ask and what company you’re talking about. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of DeepMind’s Gato AI and other popular AIs out there today.

DeepMind’s Gato System

AI systems like DeepMind’s Gato have become increasingly common in recent years.

Gato is an AI model that can play Atari games, caption images, and chat. In addition, it can build towers with a real robot arm, among hundreds of other things – 604 tasks, to be exact. However, some researchers have become too enthusiastic about Gato in the week since its release. 

Amid its many uses, what’s important to note is how often it makes mistakes and how they are handled. In this case, Gato’s errors are pretty egregious, suggesting that it’s not nearly as intelligent as some believe. 

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is the process of training a computer to perform a task using large amounts of data. So, when asked the question, will artificial intelligence take over? The answer may lie in the quality of the machine learning capabilities of systems.

More often than not, machine learning involves feeding the system with images or sound clips. Through this process, it can learn the processes and how to do them. For instance, if you want your AI to identify objects in a photo, you need to feed it thousands of photos with captions describing what they show. This is a highly efficient way to train an AI, but it also has some serious limitations that you need to be aware of.

What Is Artificial General Intelligence?

Artificial general intelligence, or AGI, refers to a computer that is as smart (or smarter) than a human. We’re not even remotely close to having a computer as smart as a human across the board. That said, the term AGI can be a bit misleading.

The truth is, none of the AI systems being used today are general or intelligent, let alone AGI. Most AI systems are very limited in their capacities and are only programmed to do particular tasks.

Many people who write about AI are quick to jump from AGI to ASI, or artificial super intelligence. This is the supposed next level of AI beyond AGI when computers become super-intelligent and achieve god-like abilities.

There are so many reasons why this is unlikely ever to happen. But the main reason is that even if we did create AGI, it would take many years before we get anywhere close to ASI.

Conclusion

So, will artificial intelligence take over? Here’s the good news – humans don’t need to panic. Machines are not gaining sentience and won’t be enslaving the human race any time soon.

However, that doesn’t mean that AI isn’t a helpful tool that we can use to make our lives easier and more efficient. There are many different types of AI, and it’s all up to us how we can make the most out of the systems to enrich our lives.

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Can You Shop in the Metaverse? Here’s What to Expect in the Virtual World

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woman using a vr headset looking at a bag

Online shopping has increased thanks to the pandemic. Most shoppers now rely on delivery apps and eCommerce stores for their needs. However, it appears that online shopping can be taken to a whole new level– in the metaverse. The question remains, can you shop in the metaverse?

Current Landscape and Metaverse Potential

Retailers have a physical, online, and social media presence. These are platforms where consumers can buy their products. However, with the introduction of the metaverse, retailers can leave their mark; then, users can purchase these products using only their VR headsets, allowing people to shop in the metaverse. Plus, consumers will have more opportunities to try out new products even without leaving the comfort of their homes through 3D.

Retailers in the Metaverse & Gaming or Virtual Platforms

Fashion

PacSun and Forever 21 have made an impact in the metaverse. Forever 21 started its journey to the metaverse (so to speak) via Roblox, an online gaming platform. Like Forever 21, PacSun also collaborated with the online gaming platform to sell virtual clothing. Gamers can use exclusive PacSun items for their worlds or characters in-game.

But these aren’t the only retailers that have stepped foot in digital spaces beyond their online stores. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dior Beauty are the few businesses that have offered a virtual shopping experience.

It seems Roblox is a popular choice for retailers to collaborate with since Gucci also partnered with them. They sold a Dionysius bag on the platform, costing more than $4,000. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton released a video game in 2021 wherein gamers can earn 30 NFTs and ten from Beeple, an artist. Finally, Dior partnered with Harrods to create a virtual version of the department store where users can browse gifts.

Balenciaga and Fortnite also had their collaboration. You can dress up your avatar in Balenciaga. The two brands partnered to create a collection released in September 2021.

Food & Drinks & Restaurants

One of the biggest brands that made a leap to the metaverse is Coca-Cola. They created the Zero Sugar Byte, giving consumers a taste of pixels. The beverage company says that it’s the ideal companion for every game, and when drunk, it will taste like a game powering up.

Wendy’s has also left a footprint in the metaverse, which they call the Wendyverse. The fast-food restaurant used Meta’s Horizon platform to create the Wendyverse. Here, consumers can interact with one another. Users could walk around the virtual community using their Oculus Rift.  Plus, during the launch, visitors got food for $1.

McDonald’s will also venture into the metaverse. Business Insider reported they registered for a trademark for a virtual restaurant. The trademarks were for NFTs, a virtual restaurant, food and beverages, and concerts. Josh Gerben, a lawyer, tweeted what people could expect with McDonald’s in the Metaverse.

How Can Businesses Leverage Metaverse with Data

Bloomberg reveals that the market in the metaverse could reach a whopping $800 billion by 2024. With brands making waves on virtual or digital platforms, many businesses may consider using the metaverse to connect with a younger audience. Plus, Bloomberg says that live events and ads could drive the numbers higher.

Telling A Story Virtually

The metaverse offers an opportunity for brands to tell their story without having to set up physical spaces and other location or construction costs. With the metaverse available for retailers, users can access their products anytime, anywhere. 

Retailers can partner with SaaS companies to help them design their virtual stores and update them with new products. Plus, they can even integrate their ecommerce stores into the metaverse for seamless browsing or checkouts, and it would be easier to shop in the metaverse.

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Is Lab-Grown Meat Good for Your Health and the Planet?

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illustration of woman and food at a farm

A CNN report shows the possibility of eating meat without farming, slaughter and the risk of high cholesterol levels. But here’s a question – is lab grown meat good for you? 

Uma Valeti, the founder-CEO of Upside Foods, said that cultivated meat is real meat grown directly from animal cells. These products are not vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based. They are authentic meat made without the animal.

“Cultivating meat is similar to brewing beer. Rather that growing microbes or yeast, we grow animal cells,” Valeti said. 

Scientists conducted the study by taking a small cell sample from livestock animals such as a cow or chicken, then identifying cells that can multiply. Then, they put these cells in a clean and controlled environment. After which, they nourish them with essential nutrients they need to replicate naturally. With that, the scientist can mimic the conditions inside an animal’s body. 

“It is getting meat minus the slaughter,” Christiana Musk, founder of Flourish*ink, said at the Life Itself conference. Flourish*ink is a platform for curating and catalyzing conversations on the future of food.

Mosa Meat, a Netherlands-based food technology company, revealed that some companies are moving away from “lab-grown meat.” These companies call this cultivated meat, cultured meat, cell-based or cell-grown meat, or non-slaughter meat.

Aside from mitigating animal slaughter, cultivated meat could also help slow climate change. 

Related Article: Lab-grown chicken to be sold for the first time ever

How It Works

burger

Source: CNN

Making cultivated meat is based on the field of tissue engineering or growing human tissues in a lab for medical repairs and regeneration. 

Here are the steps of cultivating meat, as Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just, Inc, discussed.

  1. Scientists get animal cell samples by getting a small amount of tissue through biopsy. Then isolates cells from eggs or traditionally grown meat or obtains cells from cell banks. 
  2. Next is identifying nutrients for the cells to consume vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It’s fed like a traditionally grown chicken with cells that gets nutrients from soy and corn. Isolated cells can absorb the nutrients provided in a lab or facility.
  3. The cells are processed in their nutrient bath in a bioreactor, a large stainless steel vessel “that has an internal process by which it agitates cells under a particular pressure to create an environment that allows cells to grow efficiently and safely. This process is making raw meat. 
  4. The cell sample takes more or less two weeks to grow into the desired size, which is “about half the amount that a chicken would take.
  1. The final step is converting the meat into the finished product, whether that’s a chicken breast or nugget, or beef burger or steak.

Is Lab-Grown Meat Good for You?

salad and chicken

Source: CNN

“Whether it’s animal welfare, climate, biodiversity or food safety, there are many important reasons to change how we eat meat,” Tetrick said.

For instance, few to no animals would have to be farmed and used for cultivated meat, and a vast area of land wouldn’t be needed to grow feed for them. Also, a single cell could make hundreds of billions of pounds of meat, Tetrick added. There’s no limit. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2022 assessment report said that cultivated meat is an emerging food technology that could help substantially reduce global emissions from food production because of its “lower land, water, and nutrient footprints.”

Whether cultivated meat will require less water is debatable and remains to be seen, Kaplan said, “because you still need a lot of water for cellular agriculture.”

And cellular agriculture may or may not result in a substantial reduction in energy use, according to the IPCC.

Nutritional quality and impacts on human health are areas where “cultivated meat can shine, because the process is much more controlled than traditional agriculture,” David Kaplan, a professor of biomedical engineering, said. 

Conclusion 

Is lab grown meat good for you? The topic of meat is quite challenging because it is culturally connected. It has all the tradeoffs between access, health, sustainability, animal welfare, and taste. It’s a topic of significant debate. However, if lab-grown meat ends up ticking off all the essential elements, it could be considered a great success. Upside Foods’ Uma Valeti said it is when people can eat the meat they want with slaughter. 

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