In this week’s Future Trends – Conservation Through Sequencing the Genome we dive into some interesting science-related developments.They include conservation through sequencing the genome, the steady march of solar power & engineered natural killer cells.
We also feature a video of Nikolas talking about the potential of nanotechnology. Read on…
1. Conservation Through Sequencing the Genome
Yesterday saw the official launch of the Vertebrate Genomes Project – an initiative aimed at mapping the genes of 66,000 species of animals. An ambitious goal to say the least but a positive step towards better understanding of how these species cope with our changing environment.
Polite society might not give a hoot, or even know, about animals like the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat or Pangolin but these small creatures symbolize a far greater looming challenge – future mass extinction & biodiversity loss on large scale. In fact, Jonathan Baillie & Ya-Ping Zhang, of the National Geographic Society argue that preservation is not only about averting potential extinction of animals but also about saving ourselves.
Perhaps the bigger contribution of the G10K-VGP consortium—which includes more than 150 participants from academia, industry, and government—is the methodology it’s developing to produce high-resolution sequences with minimal errors and at a minimal cost
By 2050, our lands, oceans and animals need to support a global population of 10 billion people, which by most estimates will require protecting at least 25-50% of our lands and oceans. Currently only 3.6% of oceans and 14.7% of land are protected (with even some of these protections being circumnavigated) so leveraging today’s exponentially lower costs of gene sequencing to produce high quality genomes is important work.
As part of their announcement yesterday the VGP also released 15 genomes including the duck billed platypus and Canadian lynx (pictured above). Sadye Paez, the program’s director feels it is imperative to “communicate a library of life” and the first phase of the project aims to sequence 266 species with the goal of adding 6 new species a week to it’s “to do” list.
You can read more about this exciting work at The Scientist
2. The Steady March of Solar
Elon Musk seems back on track today with Tesla stock rebounding by about $20 USD since his indiscretions on the Joe Rogan podcast. Yesterday his company tweeted an update about the gigantic solar panel array that will be powering their gigafactory. The picture is impressive and the array stands to be the largest of it’s kind in the world with 200,000 panels and a capacity of 70MW.
As usual Mr. Musk is ahead of the curve but, despite government tariff roadblocks in the States, solar power seems to also be on a better track than expected with U.S. utilities procuring 8.5 gigawatts of solar projects in the first half of 2018.
The utility-scale solar forecast for the next 5 years has also improved by 1.9GW. This is promising given stifling tariffs and could speak to the strength of the industry and future prospects of solar. Indeed, Abigail Ross Hopper, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s president contends, “the solar industry is simply too strong to be kept down.”
Other factors helping maintain stability in the industry are solar module price reductions in China (due to an oversupply as the government pulls back on subsidies) and a 30% investment tax credit. This stability and industry growth also appears quite sustainable even though tax credits will drop to 10% by 2021 as tariffs are also slated to be lowered to half their current rate over the same time period.
3. Engineered Natural Killer Cells
Natural Killer Cells, or more officially chimeric antigen receptor natural killer cells (CAR NT), will debut in clinical trials beginning this year. These cells use the same cancer-homing receptor as the best current T cell cancer fighters (CAR T cells) but could prove to be much cheaper, safer and faster than their current counterpart.
Approved CAR T cell treatments have shown promising results to date but have some shortcomings including their effectiveness against solid tumors. Another drawback to current best treatments is reactions of patients to donor cells. Currently T cells from an outside donor can trigger immune system complications but Natural Killer Cells don’t appear to have this same response.
Find out more at Science Mag
4. Nikolas Badminton on Nanotechnology
In this video, Nikolas talks about the potential of nanotechnology and how it is going to change the world. Nikolas was guest appearing on the Vancouver Real podcast. Big shout out!
“Nanotechnology is going to be incredibly powerful, from material science to having buildings that don’t break anymore. They self-heal. New materials that are more water-resistant than ever before, fire-retardant, or stronger, and lighter… Screens that are completely transparent, and will never ever break, as a standard thing.” – Futurist Speaker, Nikolas Badminton
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Nikolas is a world-leading Futurist Speaker that drives leaders to take action in creating a better world for humanity. He promotes exponential thinking along with a critical, honest, and optimistic view that empowers you with knowledge to plan for today, tomorrow, and for the future.