SpaceX Earth to Earth Travel

Earth to Earth Key Takeaways

  • Air travel will be 20 times faster.
  • Under 1 hour travel time to and from anywhere on Earth.
  • Ticket price may be significantly higher than airlines, at least initially.

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The experience for consumers will start with a boat ride from the departing city, to the rocket launch site roughly 20 miles offshore. Passengers will exit the ferry and begin boarding Starship. The reason it is in the ocean a few miles from any cities is strategic – for safety and to help minimize noise pollution.

In an interview, Gwynne Shotwell has described Earth to Earth in depth and states with confidence that this is something that will definitely exist.

After launch, Starship will exit Earth’s atmosphere and enter orbit, where the vacuum of space will allow frictionless travel at 16,777 miles per hour. Most journeys will take less than 30 minutes, and will be able to go anywhere on Earth in under an hour. For example, passengers will be able to travel from New York City to Shanghai, China in under 39 minutes. The same distance on an airplane would take 15 to 20 hours.

SpaceX has a list of estimated time-tables on their website:

spacex earth to earth travel times
Earth to Earth travel time comparisons. Source: spacex.com

The voyage will feel incredibly smooth, without any of the turbulence often experienced during airplane flights.

In addition to human transport, the US Transportation Command has teamed up with SpaceX to apply the technology in the area of distribution and logistics, where “point-to-point rapid movement of vital resources” would enhance a global supply chain. [1]

SpaceX’s Advantage

SpaceX profitability is important because the company needs to fund future space exploration endeavors; they aim to establish a base on the moon, colonize Mars, and invest in R&D to further advance rocket technology.

“In addition to vastly increased speed, one great benefit to traveling in space outside of Earth’s atmosphere is the lack of friction as well as turbulence and weather.
– SpaceX

With point to point rocket travel on Earth, if SpaceX succeeds in being first to market, they will gain the first mover advantage. The first mover advantage for a space exploration company may be broken down into a couple components:

  • Brand Recognition: SpaceX has done well with establishing strong brand recognition, although spending practically $0 on marketing.
  • Technology: The company has made more than a few advancements and has achieved quite a lot in the way of space technology – from creating Starlink satellite network to landing rockets and making the first fully reusable ship, space travel is significantly cheaper than before. While a typical commercial airplane cannot fly more than one route per day, SpaceX will be able to run 10X the number of flights per day thanks to rocket reusability and faster vehicle turnaround time.
  • Customer Loyalty: The company has built customer loyalty by consistently and successfully helping NASA with various projects [2]. NASA will certainly appear as a repeat customer into the future, and they seem to have a strong partnership.
  • Consumer trust: SpaceX has a rigorous testing process and spent many years before attempting a mission carrying humans. SpaceX makes a point of putting safety first, and has spoken about their goal of making risk not small, but “tiny”. SpaceX has already, for example, sold its first commercial moon flight to art investor Yusaku Maezawa with the #DearMoon mission. [3]
  • Competition: Space travel, exploration and associated technologies are a big whitespace in the market. There are few – if any – competitors entering the market for most of SpaceX’s services. The aerospace industry has Blue Origin, NASA (government), Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, but none of these companies are doing quite the same thing as SpaceX. Given the lack of competitors, SpaceX will play a major role setting the market price for this new type of air travel, which brings negotiating power and optimum competitive positioning. CEO Elon Musk has stated that “competition is good, bring it on” [4] in response to a question about Boeing as a competitor. The SpaceX Earth to Earth service will effectively compete with international airlines, but the target market / end consumer is a small portion of travelers who need to get to their destination quickly and have the financial means to do so.
  • Economies of scale: As SpaceX serves these of customers, the company will continue to try to develop cheaper and better ways to launch people and cargo into outer space. As more people take journeys, the economies of scale that result from these innovations will create a more cost efficient means of doing so.

Carbon Capture

Elon Musk replied to a question about carbon-capture for rocket fuel, stating that “rocket flights will be zero-net carbon long term.”

Airplanes account for 9% of US emissions from transportation. Believe it or not, rockets will be a more environmentally friendly method of transportation than a traditional airplane.

Cost of Earth to Earth rocket service versus Airlines?

Airlines are actually not super profitable. Airlines have been quite un-profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although large by revenue, airline expenses are also very large, so they operate on low margins.

For example, the cost of operations of one of the larger commercial airplanes, the Airbus A30, averages $27500 per hour, which extrapolates to roughly $550,000 total to fly from New York City to Shanghai, China.

The Cost of SpaceX Earth to Earth travel depends on a couple of factors. Passenger cost to break-even essentially comes down to cost per launch / number of passengers. Financials – total operating expenses and margins per flight to calculate minimum sales price to break even. These numbers aren’t yet published.

How much will consumers pay?

Note that carrying capacity (number of passenger seats) on Starship is around 1000 passengers for Earth to Earth, compared to only 100 passengers for a mission to Mars due to the need for spacious amenities on a longer mission. With more passengers onboard for an Earth to Earth voyage, costs could be driven down since it would be divided among more passengers.

source: spacex

Like airlines in the 1940’s, rapid Earth to Earth transit via rocket may likely be a luxury high end service for the first few years. There are 46.8 million people in the world who have a net worth of $1 million or more, so SpaceX probably has a sizeable target market to sell rocket seats.

The amount a consumer is willing to pay depends on the amount of value created. The best way to approach this by thinking about the value of a person’s time. A 20 hour NYC to Shanghai flight versus 1 hour rocket ship ride means 19 hours time saved. When you consider that someone travelling on business could add 19 hours of hypothetical productive time, the value becomes much more clear. Companies would even likely be willing to pay more for this service as they have to write off travel time as an employee payroll expense anyways.

The question is, how much is your time worth? The value is saving people time on air travel. How much is this 19 hours of time saved worth to you?

How much will tickets cost?

According to Head of Operations Gwynne Shotwell, tickets will be cheaper than a first class ticket, but more than economy. Gwynne has mentioned that SpaceX may likely charge a few thousand dollars per passenger per flight. Perhaps one day, the company may provide flights to consumers at a low enough cost to be affordable to the average person. We don’t quite know how much it will cost

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Sources:

  1. https://www.ustranscom.mil/cmd/panewsreader.cfm?ID=29ADE173-D927-8E46-7C6CBC100BAD9F71&yr=2020
  2. https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/welcome-home-bob-and-doug
  3. https://dearmoon.earth/
  4. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251129

Saturn’s Moon, Enceladus

There are 62 moons orbiting Saturn. Enceladus is one of the top places we should target to explore and learn more about.

Although each exhibits unique characteristics, Enceladus and is of interest to humans for a couple of reasons – aside from the fact that the temperature is -330 degrees F.

Enceladus moon is currently being studied by NASA for a couple of reasons, mainly because Enceladus has water.

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In Depth | Enceladus – NASA Solar System Exploration
source: solarsystem.nasa.gov

But water on Enceladus is unique:

  • The Enceladus moon is surrounded by 25 mile wide crust made of ice.
  • Beneath the ice, a 6 mile deep ocean harbors hydrothermal vents that can reach temperatures of 400 degrees C.
  • These hydrothermal vents are a result of heat and pressure deep within the core, releasing such massive amounts of heat that cracks have formed in the crust, releasing vapor in the form of geysers.
Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion.jpg
Cassini Spacecraft. source: NASA/JPL

Much of what we know about Enceladus has come from the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn, and has observed the moon during flybys.

The ship was able to collect samples of vapor expelled from the geysers, which contained organic material.

Together with water, these are fundamental building blocks for life.

Enceladus contains both water, organic material, and energy – the fundamental building blocks for life. – @espressoinsight

Based on the observations from the Cassini spacecraft, it is possible that the oceans of Enceladus may be habitable to some form of life.

Hot springs are now believed to exist on Enceladus, in the liquid ocean trapped under the moon's ice.
source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Compared to Titan or even other planets, Enceladus moon is quite small – only 314 miles across. This is similar to one third of the driving distance from Chicago to Dallas.

Given that there is both H2O as well as organic compounds, the planet could in theory provide habitat to some obscure life form. Of course, this is just conjecture.

It cannot be stated for certain whether or not there is some type of aquatic microorganism such as plankton living in the oceans below the crust of Enceladus.

If there is life within the oceans of Enceladus, the bigger question then becomes – did life originate there, or come from somewhere else?

This brings up the question of abiogenesis or panspermia as possible theories for the origin of life.

Could life have evolved there on its own, or might it have arrived via the collision from a meteor or other object?

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sources:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/infrared-eyes-on-enceladus-hints-of-fresh-ice-in-northern-hemisphere

Saturn’s Moon, Titan

Saturn’s Moon, Titan, is a top space exploration target for humans in our solar system.

Titan: Key Takeaways

  • Temperature is -180 deg. C (allowing Methane to exist in liquid form).
  • Atmospheric pressure is 45% greater than Earth.
  • Titan is 40% the size of Earth.
  • According to NASA, Titan’s crust is made of H20 ice, and has liquid water as well as ammonia ocean beneath the surface.
  • Titan is almost 1 billion miles from Earth.

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Why explore Saturn’s Moon, Titan?

Titan is a rare and unique place for a number of reasons. There are four components of Titan that make it unique and worth exploring.

1. Precipitation

Aside from Earth, Titan is the only place in our solar system that has precipitation based weather systems.

On Titan, precipitation is in the form of liquid methane and other hydrocarbons, as opposed to water like on Earth.

2. Atmosphere

Of the 160+ known moons in our solar system, Titan is the only one that has an atmosphere.

An atmosphere is an important feature because it shields the planet from harmful radiation, which protects anything that may want to live on or near the surface.

Atmospheres also contribute to the greenhouse effect, trapping heat near the surface, allowing temperature regularity. Titan is so cold that it may seem surprising to hear about the greenhouse effect keeping the planet warm. The fact that Titan is so far from the sun means that it simply receives less heat.

source: NASA Cassini

3. Titan’s geological chemistry

Titan has unique chemistry that features an abundance of methane and a nitrogen based atmosphere that is 50% denser than Earth’s. Methane is a molecule that consists of 4 hydrogen atoms bonded to a single carbon, with a relatively low atomic mass, it is normally a gas on Earth at room temperature and standard conditions. Titan’s conditions, however, are cold enough that methane exists in liquid form.

On Titan, the Selk impact crater location features conditions for life as we know it: evidence of past liquid water, hydrocarbon molecules, as well as oxygen, nitrogen, and energy. The crater was likely formed by some sort of asteroidal impact years ago.

Recently, NASA discovered a unique molecule (cyclopropenylidene) within Titan’s atmosphere, that could be a sign of possible life.

This molecule is interesting not only because it is a carbon based molecule – Titan has plenty of those – but that it is a pre-cursor to biochemical processes performed by biological organisms that we see on Earth.

4. Raw Materials

Humans may one day establish establish satellite colonies in order to access these valuable raw materials like methane to use as fuel for rockets and other vehicles.

Titan’s presence of hydrocarbons in such an abundance on its surface as well as atmosphere, makes it attractive as a possible re-fueling destination.

Methane, for example, is a great potential fuel source.

According to SoCalGas, methane produces more heat and light energy by mass than other fossil fuels or hydrocarbons. It produces significantly less carbon dioxide and other pollutants that contribute to smog and unhealthy air.

Methane is lightweight and is more stable than some commonly used rocket propellants such as liquid hydrogen.

Titan is considerably further than our moon as well as Mars. Because of this, sending unmanned robotic missions there takes significant time (Cassini took 7 years, for example) so we should make an effort to do so sooner to accelerate information gathering.

Astronauts may one day be able to use Titan as a layover location, or a type of galactic gas station, similar to the Moon before longer missions.

Therefore, Titan would make sense as one of the first places where humans may want to establish a base – along with the moon and Mars of course.

Exploring Titan

NASA sent the Cassini-Huygens mission to Titan in 2005 and was actually able to send photos back to Earth.

Since that time, no missions to Titan have been carried out. Perhaps the main reason may be NASA’s budget, which is certainly understandable. We have other initiatives like the International Space Station, the Artemis Space mission, and more.

But there’s good news for our future missions to Titan – in 2026, NASA plans to send another spacecraft towards Titan, which should arrive in 2034. The mission is called Dragonfly, and will examine and document potential chemical processes that could be precursors to life. By taking samples, NASA hopes to find evidence of past life, or at least understand how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed.

As a drone-based vehicle, the Dragonfly plans to travel over 108 miles, visiting destinations such as the Selk impact crater, which has a large amount of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present, as well as evidence of water.

Below are a few pictures of the obscure world from that Cassini space rover, which can be accessed via the Nasa Photo Journal. We notice a few specific features of Titan’s surface. But first, consider joining our email list (we only send 1 email per week).

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source: NASA photo journal
  • We’re able to observe methane lakes on the surface.
  • As the spacecraft descended towards Titan, the picture below was taken. Natural drainage channels look like an area where liquid water once flowed. It’s possible there is a shoreline depicted in the photo as well.
source: NASA photo journal

Below is the first up-close photo of Titan’s surface ever taken. We see chunks of ice, which is evidence of water. the second picture shows globules likely made of frozen water. The clusters here with fewer rocks suggest these may be channels where liquid water once flowed.

source: NASA photo journal

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Dawn of Crafting mobile game review

Dawn of Crafting is a mobile game that scratches the crafting-resource management itch in a big way without ever clobbering you with in app purchases – (no timers, no ads!).  No complex fighting, no dying, no energy timers, just a deep and fun growth and exploration game.  

This game is amazingly crafted to draw you in deeper and deeper.  You will start to think you’ve found everything when an entirely new person/ game/ area pops up. No matching, no puzzles, just balancing and exploring. 

Best of all, you can pick it up and put it down with no saving walls or loss of progress. 

I originally played Dawn of crafting 3 years ago and was so enthralled that I played for 3 days straight without opening another app and continued playing for weeks.  I recently started a new Dawn of Crafting game and haven’t opened another app for 5 days.

Why is this game so engaging?  The game’s simple interface is deceiving. It has a cute storyline with good writing and surprises, resource management that gets increasingly complex without being boring, discovery of new recipes and abilities and things to do. The game gradually opens up into more and more things to do without ever leaving behind the calming simplicity.  

You acquire a helper and must keep yourselves fed, so the fundamental activity of the game is finding items and combining them to create new recipes, items, and tools.

The game features cooking, tools, weapons… it grows and grows. Well. I won’t spoil it for you.

Despite the age of this offering, it is fully functional and supported. Try it!

Guest post written by wyerae (reddit alias).

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Knighthood mobile gamer Q&A

We interviewed redditor ManaBuilt about Knighthood, and here’s how it went!

Q: What is Knighthood?

A: The game is a portrait-oriented RPG with turn-based battle mechanics and hero collection.

Q: How did you hear about the game?

A: I heard about it through a friend that downloaded it and recommend I give it a shot.

Q: Why do you enjoy playing it?

A: I enjoy the game because of its solid gameplay and unique graphics. The fights are satisfying and the hero collecting doesn’t take center stage, which lets you spend most of your time upgrading your own character.

Q: Could you elaborate on gameplay a bit.. talk about objectives, progression, items, etc.

A: The game is semi-linear, with your character needing to go through set battles in order to continue on to new lands. As you move through the world, there are some branching paths that lead to various repeatable activities that are all about grinding for the necessary components to level up. Hunts are battles that can be farmed for upgrade materials and EXP, while Shrines of Power are quests that you can send your companions out on to get unique items and level them up, etc. There’s a good amount of variety to be had and daily missions will pretty much get you to touch each of the events in one way or another.

Q: How are the graphics? Can you compare the graphic / art in the game to anything?

A: I could not think of any other game that has graphics like this, possibly Fortnite? It’s a very clean look, and moving between menus and battles feels very smooth. Equipment (weapons and armor) have unique looks for each rank, making your character look very unique from other players the more you play.

Q: Can you talk about the game controls? How complex are touch screen mobile controls during gameplay?

A: Controls are pretty simple. Tap once to attack with weapon, swipe up to attack with your gauntlet. Gauntlet attacks power up your special, which changes based on the companions you bring with you into fights. Gauntlet and standard weapon attacks can be chained together in some fun ways, as high attack combos deal more damage, but higher gauntlet combos fill your special meter faster. So there’s some interesting planning that needs to happen if you know that a later wave of enemies will be better dealt with a big special attack. It feels very nice playing mobile, and I would say a lot of care went into making sure it didn’t feel like a port from PC or anything; buttons are all easy to press, text never feels too small, and it’s pretty light on battery and data to boot.

Q: How does upgrading your character work?

A: Upgrading your character happens on a lot of different levels. Your character gains actual EXP from fights, but you also need to upgrade your weapons, armor, and companions. Hunts, as mentioned, are the easiest ways to farm for materials to upgrade each of these, but as the game goes on you start needing to find special and harder to find items to move a piece of equipment into the next rank. So there’s a good blend of grinding and needing to hunt down valuable materials and then making a decision about which item will get moved into a new rank or level.

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Playing Nintendo Classics During Quarantine

Those who still own a Nintendo 64 should treasure it like something out of a museum. In 2020, these gaming consoles are few and far between.

Unfortunately, I never actually owned a 64. Growing up, my parents bought us a Playstation for Christmas, and it didn’t really make sense to have more than one video game console.

Back then, gaming was considered a leisure activity. Video games were more often seen as a waste of time than as a way to potentially build a career. The perception was not dissimilar from how people today perceive time spent watching shows / Netflix.

Over the years, we’ve seen gaming change a lot. The gaming industry has measurably grown. Processing power and graphics have improved. Video gaming has dramatically increased in popularity. Platforms like Twitch have enabled people to bring their unique style and personality to live stream games to demonstrate skill. A not-insignificant number of these people now make a living playing video games.

Ten years ago, who ever thought you could make money playing games? If there were people out there making money from video games, I didn’t hear about it. Had I known, perhaps I would have figured how to make it work. Maybe my parents would have encouraged me to play MORE hours of Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 instead of less.

With gaming’s big changes, its great to see that some things have remained constant.

While in a self-quarantine during the recent coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been lucky to have a friend with a Nintendo 64. Yesterday, with a small group practicing social distancing, we took a nostalgic journey through the levels of the classic version of Mario Kart on 64.

After making it through Frappe Snowland, Moo Moo Farm, Sherbet Land, Bowser’s Castle, and more, something unimaginable happened — I got to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch for the FIRST TIME EVER.

The experience equated to the experiences of Christmas long, long ago…. trying a new game, on a new console, and playing it all morning in your PJs before family comes over to celebrate the holidays.

But wait – the Switch version of Mario Kart was released in 2017… Why did it take this long for me to try it?

Regardless of differing levels of video game dedication and passion from one person to the next, the fact that I was late to try the game made no difference in how much fun it was to play. For me, everything in the game was new.

Although they added a multitude of new levels, characters and more, I most admire Nintendo for maintaining a similar theme and style with their games as new console technology has been released. Nowhere is this more true than Mario Kart.

Which game systems have featured Mario Kart?
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo 64
iQue Player
Game Boy Advance
GameCube
Nintendo DS
Arcade
Wii
Nintendo 3DS
Wii U
Nintendo Switch
iOS
Android

As we like to call the Game Boy the “original mobile gaming device“, its great to see that Nintendo has also expanded into mobile games by developing Mario Kart Tour, a version of the game to be played on iOS and Android smartphones.

Whether on the original Nintendo 64, GameCube Double Dash, or any of the other platforms, Nintendo maintains its commitment to build a new and improved version of Mario Kart for virtually every system.

I have always felt deeply connected to Nintendo. Their games have that effect. No matter how old they get, they’re never obsolete. Nintendo games are built to last.

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How procrastination can help you be productive

Procrastinating is a sign of intelligence. You don’t want to stop procrastinating, you just need to use it strategically.

One of the greatest business minds of our generation used procrastination as a tool to achieve success.

Steve jobs would procrastinate on certain tasks right in front of him. He would use this time as an opportunity to explore creative areas that were perhaps less conventional, but would prove extremely valuable to himself and the business.

Jobs carefully considered where his time was spent during each moment of his life. Diverting energy and time from one task allowed him to focus on unique and larger ideas.

If you are naturally intelligent, you may tend to procrastinate on dull and profane tasks.

By procrastinating, you are subconsciously searching for meaning. You are looking to exert your energy towards something more important.

Procrastination makes you feel like it is hard to get things done.

But the opposite is true. When you procrastinate on one task, you are normally incredibly efficient at another, less urgent (but still relevant) task.

I commonly hear that as people halt the efforts toward an urgent task, they exert energy towards something like cleaning. And the surprising thing is that they normally report cleaning their entire house/apartment, despite having something else seemingly important waiting off-hand.

Our goal is to move from wasteful procrastination towards productive procrastination.

  • Wasteful procrastination is when you aren’t making progress towards any of your goals.
  • Productive procrastination is when you postpone one task, while taking care of another important task.

To allow ourselves to exert productive procrastination effort, we need to outline our goals, then create tasks that map to those goals.

By having an outline of these, we will be able to selectively choose where we exert our procrastination efforts.

Here are a potential list of goals that you may have.

  1. Pass professional certification exam for your 9–5 job.
  2. Deliver exceptional work to clients at your job.
  3. Grow your blog on the side.
  4. Grow a following on Quora.
  5. Learn to make and edit YouTube videos.

Let’s think about how we can leverage procrastination to exert creative effort towards achieving all of our goals.

Here’s a story:

Perhaps you have been studying for your exam for a few hours. Eventually, your focus drifts off and you open up YouTube and go down the rabbit hole of videos.

BUT WAIT!

One of the goals on your list had something to do with YouTube. You want to learn how to make and edit YouTube videos. As you “procrastinate” by browsing YouTube, you’re not just mindlessly watching videos. You are watching with intention, observing and learning what makes an appealing and interesting YouTube video. What types of headlines are successful creators using? How do the thumbnails of the best videos look? Does the content appear scripted? How long are the top videos?

As you exert this type of distracted yet productive energy while “procrastinating”, you’ll eventually begin to get some ideas for your current YouTube projects. You’ll also start to understand what makes a good YouTube video. This will help refine your vision.

Perhaps you start to procrastinate some more. You take a break from YouTube and go for a walk. On your walk, you shoot a few video clips of cool stuff you see in your neighborhood – nothing fancy, just on your iPhone. Street art, interesting buildings, uniquely shaped trees, you and your friend, whatever. The beginnings of your YouTube creation project.

The day is coming to a close, and you decide to meet a few friends for drinks. As you the conversation progresses, you share a bit about the projects you’re working on in your current job. Since you work in similar industries, your friends give you some ideas about those projects, and you give them a few ideas as well.

The next morning is Saturday, and you feel guilty for sleeping in late. Surprisingly, you have no hangover.

You begin to remember a few ideas for your clients. Although it is Saturday, you don’t want to forget these ideas, so you go ahead and write them down on a document. Before you know it, an hour or two have passed and you’ve actually made a lot of progress on the client project. You realize that this will make your life much easier in the upcoming week.

Your attention begins to divert as you looked something up on Google that brought you to Quora, and now you’re going down another rabbit hole of Quora content.

BUT WAIT!

One of your goals is involving growing a following on Quora. Just like how you used dedicated intention and focus towards learning about YouTube, you can do the same here. As you read a few click-bait answers, you realize you could write just as good, if not better answer than some you’re seeing. You go ahead and answer a few questions that spark your interest. Little do you know, these answers you write will start getting a few views! Perhaps you can use this content to drive traffic to your blog as well?

So, to review:

How did we leverage productive procrastination in the story above?

  • By procrastinating on studying for the exam, we were able to watch YouTube videos and learn more about what makes a good video.
  • When we went on the walk, something seemingly relaxing turned into a chance for us to gather some raw footage to use in our YouTube project.
  • As we grabbed drinks with friends, we not only were able to socialize and blow off some steam, but we were able to get ideas and input from others about a few of our projects, and leverage this to help us move forward the following day.
  • Although oversleeping on Saturday may have consumed a few hours of our morning, the extra sleep surely helped us avoid having a hangover and we were thus able to be quite productive out of nowhere.
  • Although spending a few hours on a Saturday doing work, it was surprisingly enjoyable as we were able to relax and think freely without the common week day interruptions like emails, meetings, etc.
  • While we got distracted from the work we were doing on Saturday, we were able to divert this attention towards a few of our other goals – building a following on Quora and growing a blog.

Never forget that the time you spend “procrastinating” are minutes, hours, and days of your life. What you do makes you who you are.

Don’t worry so much about procrastinating.

Focus on what excites you.

In addition to your responsibilities, leverage that excitement to exert productive effort towards your goals.

How Lab Grown Organs can Revolutionize Biotech

So many medical breakthroughs occur in mice, but how often does mouse-model research translate to humans?

We need a way to safely test the efficacy of treatments on humans. Lab grown organs may allow us to do this. Organ tissue is being artificially grown and used to advance medical technology on a number of different fronts.

Purpose of Lab- Engineered Organs:

  1. Organ transplants: Replacing an entire dysfunctional organs in a human’s body.
  2. Research: Testing medical technology treatments – drug discovery and medical device efficacy.
source: Nathan Langer, UPMC

Benefits of growing organs in the Lab

  1. Organ transplants:
    • There is a shortage of donor organs for transplant. People die everyday waiting for a heart, lung, kidney, or liver transplant.
    • For those patients that do receive a transplant, there is a risk that the body will reject the new, foreign organ. This requires lifelong immunosuppressive therapy post-transplant. If there was a way to grow organs for patients using their own cells, it would ensure a perfect match and eliminate these risks.
    • Making replacement organs for a patient from their own stem cells means the organ would be so compatible with their body that it would eventually become a part of their body and not have to be replaced.
  2. Research:
    • The drug discovery process requires time, effort, and energy to test on animal models to ensure safety and efficacy before testing on humans. However, animal models don’t always translate to humans. Being able to test medical treatments on engineered human cells and tissues would accelerate this process and ensure greater safety.
    • Create a more humane research process by not needing to test on animals.

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Successful Progress Growing Organs

  • Today, we can successfully produce more simple organ structures in a lab (including arteries, tracheas, bladders). People have benefitted from lab-grown bladders and tracheas, for example. [1]
    • In dialysis, often blood vessels have to be replaced. Human cells will grow around artificial implanted blood vessel to form a new one. [4]
    • We can grow arteries from stem cells [5]
  • Researchers have uses 3D printing to create scaffolds in which stem cells grow into the shape of the organ. However, we are not able to connect the network of blood vessels, nerves, and more to the organ, so it remains as a group of non-functioning cells.

Challenges Growing Cell Groups:

  • To grow in three dimensions, cells need some sort of scaffold, which must be accepted by the body and ideally degrade over time into nontoxic components. [3]
  • It’s easy to grow cells in a Petri dish – I did this in college with prostate cancer cells. The challenge comes when trying to build more complex tissues – lab grown cells are quick to die when they get larger than about half a centimeter. There are no blood vessels going through the cells to supply them with nutrients.
  • “But without cues provided by blood flow and interactions with other tissues, the result would be simply a stomach-shaped statue, unable to digest or growl. An organ is much more than a mass of cells arranged in a particular configuration: it also has support scaffolds, blood vessels to deliver nutrients and signal molecules, and a hierarchy of intricate control functions that can respond to internal and external cues.” (2)
  • Livers, hearts, and tissues are complex tissues, hard to make.

(Articles are updated often. More information on lab-grown organs for transplant will be added soon)

Lab-Grown Cells for Medical Research

One method to test the efficacy of drugs during the development pipeline is by building small groups of cell components that are structurally and functionally similar to part of a human organ.

organs on chips
source: Wyss Institute, Harvard

These are called “organs on chips”, and allow researchers to simulate cells in the human body for drug development, disease modeling, and personalized medicine. [6]

The opportunity for this approach to bring transformational improvements in the field of personalized medicine cannot be overstated.

What are Organs on Chips?

The Wyss Institute, affiliated with Harvard University, is leading the development of a breathtaking medical technology called Human Organs-On-Chips.

The project allows small units of human organ tissue to be grown on polymer “chips” that recreate the biochemistry function and response of the cells in our organs. The cells are thus able to grow in realistic arrangements. Additionally, mechanical simulations applied to the chips allow the cells behave as they would naturally in human organs. By creating an environment that mimics the way cells feel and act in the human body, researchers are able to better understand and predict what is going to happen when medicines are given to humans.

Why is this a better technology than what currently exists?

Organs on Chips help to make the drug discovery process more effective and efficient. This helps solve a big problem in medical research. Currently, we test drugs in two general ways, either in petri dishes, or on animals. 

But these two methods of testing during of the drug discovery process are imperfect: 

  • The cells in petri dishes don’t behave exactly the way they do in a living being.
  • Animal trials fail to predict exact drug response in an actual human.

Organs on chips better mimic the microbiology of a human. By building simulations that closely resemble the way cells respond to medicine in the human body, medical researchers can find new drugs more effectively.

Designing Organs on Chips:

The chip itself is made of a clear flexible polymer. It is translucent so that we can see through the walls of the structure and observe what is happening among the human cells on the chip. 

By attaching the chip to various tubes and sensors, we can simulate blood flow to create a dynamic environment that brings in nutrients and removes waste products.

The chip has hollow microfluidic channels lined by living human organ-specific cells interfaced with a human endothelial cell-lined artificial vasculature.

Since cells are able to grow naturally with features like capillaries that allow blood flow to and from the cells, they behave naturally – the way they would inside our bodies. 

Simulating human living cells:

The chips don’t recreate entire organ systems, but small components that are of interest to medical research. They feature three-dimensional cross-sections of these major functional units within human organs.

The chip has mechanical forces that can be applied to mimic the physical microenvironment of living organs. These mechanical forces can vary in type and intensity.

They can be applied to a wide variety of cell / organ types to simulate the specific environment that occurs at that location.

For example, the mechanics of a chip can simulate breathing motions that occur in the lung, or the digestion process by creating peristalsis like deformations of the intestine cells.

Researchers have been able to line the chip with diseased cells from an individual patient, and the cells retain the features of the patient’s cells (becoming inflamed, etc.).

Personalized medicine:

We can personalize drug testing by placing individual patient cells inside these chips. To do so, we take the individual’s stem cells and grow them into the desired type of organ cell.

This helps researchers discover the dynamic response in the individual’s body to the drug during mechanically simulated but realistic cell behavior.

The differentiated behaviors of one’s cells compared to a control group allows researchers to understand how these cells function within the unique micro environment of that patient as an individual.

Chip linkages as organ systems

The ultimate goal of organs on chips is to recreate a small functional unit of a human organ, not entire organs. But these organ chips can be linked together.

By linking multiple chips together, for example cells from your heart, along with those from your lung and even digestive tract, researchers can take a more holistic approach to medical research and drug discovery, better understanding how a drug might affect your body as a whole.

This may even help discover and mitigate unwanted side effects.

Why does this matter?

Organs on chips are an exciting medical technology.

They will improve the accuracy and efficiency of preclinical testing for medicines, since they allow researchers to understand how living human organ cells respond to drugs and other treatments.

Medical research can continue developing organ-specific drug delivery systems. 

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Companies working on this:

Volumetric: trying to work our lungs. Air sacs are hard. Tissue-level, then organ-level therapies.

Sources:

  1. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=lab+grown+organs&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3DHLvxb-jf3B4J
  2. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=lab+grown+organs&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3Do2sO4BReRVgJ
  3. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=lab+grown+organs&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart#d=gs_qabs&u=%23p%3DPCbmXk2F4QgJ
  4. https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/11/485/eaau6934
  5. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/26/12710
  6. The Wyss Institute of Harvard

CONWAY GAME OF LIFE cellular automata

game of life cellular automata rules

1. Each square is a cell.

2. Cells Have two possible states: either on or off, Alive or Dead

3. Cells fluctuate between alive and dead based on their interaction with the 8 neighboring cells.

4. Cells are born if there are exactly 3 live neighboring cells.

5. Cells die if they have fewer than 2 live neighbors or more than 3 live neighbors.

6. Cells survive if they have exactly 2 or 3 live neighbors.

To try the game of life for yourself:

best simulation: https://copy.sh/life/

Other game of life simulations:
https://www.dcode.fr/game-of-life

Those small but intricate moving squares is a programmatic simulation known as cellular automata. This is called the Game of Life.


The game of life is a computer simulation created by this guy John Conway. There are infinitely many combinations for how the game grows and progresses – in fact, its not really a game at all. It’s technically a zero player game, which means that the game’s evolution is determined by its initial state with no further input.

Fungi Game of life

**So I’m throwing out the challenge as mentioned in the YouTube video.. I can’t figure out how to make the game exhibit the fungi behavior again. I’m sure someone out there will be able to identify the correct settings. (Pls let me know)

Although the game maintains such simple rules, unimaginable levels of complexity can result.

Gliders are a crazy phenomena in the game. They move forever – infinitely in one direction.

These tiny blocks move in unpredictable patterns that can only be understood by letting the simulation play out. But every process in the simulation follows the rules of the system.


This is quite similar to the laws of physics that govern the way particles interact at an atomic level within our universe.

Could it be that these incredibly simple rules seem almost analogous to the rules governing how protons, neutrons, and electrons interact in our own universe?

Much like in the game, how small building blocks create larger multi-functioning entities that can achieve different weird tasks, our universe has atoms which create molecules which combine to form life as we know it.

How will 5G impact Gaming?

Now more than a buzzword, 5G will revolutionize mobile networks. This article covers 5G, discussing how it may impact gaming.

  • What is 5G?
  • How will it make gaming better?
  • What will this make possible?
  • How will 5G impact data plans?
  • When will it be here?

What is 5G?

Not to be confused with 5Ghz wifi, 5G cellular networks will open up entirely new possibilities that weren’t feasible on slower networks.

5G is the next step up in cellular network technology (there was 3G, then 4G LTE, and now 5G). 5G mobile internet is rumored to be 10 times faster than LTE, 5G increases wireless broadband speeds for smartphones and other devices, thus improving data transfer on cellular and mobile networks.

Although dramatically impactful in many disciplines (medicine: surgery performed remotely, automobiles: self driving cars, IOT: smart cities), 5G will also enable and improve many aspects of gaming.

How will 5G impact gaming?

5G will make gaming – specifically mobile gaming – better. This will include:

1. Immediate responsiveness:

This means lower latency. Latency is the time it takes to transmit data from your device to the network and back again. This increases the speed with which a command is registered on your screen. For gaming, a lower latency means that gamers will more quickly be able to make decisions.

2. Better mobile graphics:

The ability to transmit and receive larger amounts of data will allow mobile frame rate to increase (as of January 2020, Fortnite on console can handle up to 60 FPS whereas Fortnite on PC and iPad up to 120 FPS, for example). With a higher frame rate, graphics will be more crisp and player movements will be sharper and easier to calculate.

3. Faster downloads:

5G will notably increase the download speed for games and other apps to your phone. Today, downloading mobile games (many of which are well over 1GB) requires gamers to connect to wifi and plug in their phone to prevent battery drainage. 5G will allow games of this size to be downloaded no problem. Data plans will likely be larger, so people will be more apt to download these games on the go. This will lower the barrier to entry to play all types of video games, increasing its popularity broadly, from mobile and casual gaming to esports as well.

4. Better reliability

Because 5G will provide extremely stable connections, gamers will not experience game and internet connections to drop off or remain unsteady. As more people have stable and reliable internet connections, mass multiplayer online mobile games will continue to grow, expanding the social aspects of many games such as Fortnite, while providing space for the birth of mobile-first multiplayer online games.

5. The end of lagging?

Lagging gets worse when a game’s network reaches peak player volume. Since 5G can handle a higher network throughput than 4G, game servers will manage peak hour data usage more efficiently. Since 5G will reportedly make games 1000 times faster, gamers can expect little to no lagging and more consistent high quality gameplay.

However, game companies will inevitably develop more complex and graphic intensive games. Especially with the continued growth of virtual reality gaming, the processing power required to run video games can be expected to increase.

While 5G will allow game developers to to do more with future video games, we can expect game developers to to continue to push the envelope of technology, eventually reaching the limits of 5G.

What will 5G make possible?

1. Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming should allow you to play high end, graphics intensive online multiplayer games on your mobile device with low (if any) latency and extremely high quality, resolution, and response time.

You won’t be able to tell that you’re not playing on a mobile device. Look for the following cloud gaming systems to exist soon:

  • Playstation Now
  • Google Stadia
  • Microsoft Xcloud

2. VR Streaming

Virtual reality entertainment has higher bandwidth requirements for a couple reasons:

  1. two images need to be streamed for VR, one to the left eye and one to the right eye.
  2. both of these need to be high-resolution to deliver high-quality experiences.
  3. low frame rate is one of the chief reasons that some VR players get headaches or have poor quality experiences in VR gaming.

The ability for 5G to handle the higher data receipt and transmission will make VR streaming of movies and games much smoother.

3. Future of mobile devices

5G will enable a new breed of handheld gaming consoles – 5G shells that transmit and receive high quality graphics via cloud computing. With the power of 5G, processing power local to device is not practical.

In the future, the purposes served by multiple devices (X-Box, PC, mobile, etc.) may combine into one one device optimized for transmitting and receiving data via the cloud.

With this data being processed non-locally, there is no need to purchase physical copies of games and other software, since they can be easily procured via the internet.

How will 5G affect data plans?

For consumers, it is hard to know if 5G will mean higher prices or not. Given that 5G is an enabler of extremely high download capacity, unlimited data plans will likely be required to take advantage of 5G.

The good news is that some companies such as TMobile have pledged to keep prices the same as 4g.

Data caps may still be a factor as they are today, but ultimately 5G will make the ability to transmit and receive data more abundant.

When will 5G be here?

5G is already here, its just not widely distributed yet. Some cellular plans such as T-Mobile and AT&T already have 5G out. We recommend contacting your provider directly to inquire more about 5G and what it would take to get access.

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