Technology Tuesday: March 13th

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Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: New discoveries about graphene could lead to the superconductors of tomorrow, stem cell patches that can heal damaged hearts, exploring beneath Jupiter’s surface, cancer vaccines, and solid state batteries.


GRAPHENE COULD BE THE SUPERCONDUCTOR SCIENTISTS ALWAYS DREAMED OF

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In a potentially groundbreaking new study, scientists have discovered how to make a graphene superconductor in the material’s natural state. These researchers found that two graphene layers on top of one another can conduct electrons with zero resistance if they are twisted at a “magic angle.”

Researchers brought this incredible property out of graphene almost by accident. They were exploring what the orientation known as the “magic angle,” or 1.1 degrees, would do to graphene; theories have long predicted that offsetting atoms in layers of 2D material by 1.1 degrees would make electrons behave interestingly, but scientists haven’t known just how interestingly.

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A STEM CELL PATCH COULD HEAL HEARTS DAMAGED BY CARDIAC ARREST

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The human body has an extraordinary capacity to heal itself: livers can regenerate when damaged, one kidney can learn to do the job of two, and our skin is constantly working to protect us from scratches and cuts that could expose us to harmful pathogens.

One of our most vital organs, however, can’t heal quite so well. When our hearts are damaged — by disease or injury — the tissue can’t regenerate very well, or very fast. After a major heart attack, for instance, billions of heart muscle cells may be lost forever. This loss weakens the heart and often ends up leading to conditions like congestive heart failure, or scar tissue build-up, which can be fatal.

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WE NOW KNOW WHAT LIES BENEATH JUPITER’S CLOUDS

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Scientists know surprisingly little about the deep interiors of gas giants, such as Saturn and Jupiter, but that’s changing. In four new studies, separately published in Nature, scientists provide incredible insights into what life is like below Jupiter’s clouds. Their observations and analyses stem from key findings from NASA’s Juno mission.

Previous studies of Jupiter focused on the planet’s most obvious features – its dark bands, bright zones, and big red spot – but these four studies use small signatures from the gas giant’s gravitational field to dig much deeper.

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A NEW CANCER VACCINE THAT USES VIRUS-LIKE PARTICLES IS IN DEVELOPMENT

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The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $2.4 million grant for researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) to engineer a cancer vaccine for animals that uses a virus-like particle to trigger anti-cancer immune responses. While the vaccine will initially be tested against cancer cells in animals, the hope is ultimately to develop a treatment for human patients.

Cancer can be tricky to deal with, particularly since cancer cells are able to suppress the immune system by concealing proteins that trigger an immune response. This vaccine gets around this using two major components: First, Qβ particles, which are the virus-like particles that serve as a red flag for the immune system, and second, tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs), which are unique structures present on many cancer cells, but not on healthy cells

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MASSACHUSETTS COMPANY CLAIMS TO BE CLOSE TO DEVELOPING A SOLID STATE BATTERY

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According to Axios, technology giants like Samsung and Dyson have collectively invested $65 million in Massachusetts-based Ionic Materials. This enormous vote of confidence is a bit shocking, as most people probably haven’t even heard of the small company before. But if Ionic Materials delivers on its recent claims, the investment will certainly pay off. It claims to be close to creating a safe, working solid-state battery.

The company, established in 1986, seems to be making unique progress in solid-state technology. It has created a brand new material — a liquid crystal polymer — that could solve many of the pressing issues that prevent this type of battery from entering the market.

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