FOEA Emerging tech Project

Synthetic DNA

Life on Earth has relied on four DNA subunits – G, T, A and C – for billions of years. However, US scientists have now created two new letters of the DNA alphabet ‘X’ and ‘Y’, encoded into living, breathing – and dividing – E. coli cells. Lead researcher Floyd Romesberg claims it’s all perfectly safe, preferring to think “If you read a book that was written with four letters, you’re not going to be able to tell many interesting stories. If...

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Underground coal gasification

As governments around the world wrestle with the problem of how to urgently reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, some genius has just come up with an idea of how to create a whole lot more! Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a process where coal and gas reserves – previously deemed unreachable – are set alight underground and the emissions captured. Whilst not exactly new, pilot projects of this crazy technology have recently been promoted...

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Floating nuclear power plants

Floating nuclear power plants − perhaps not a string of words that you have come across before? And probably for a good reason – it makes no sense. Yet researchers looking into how to avoid repeating nuclear disasters, like the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, seem to think floating nuclear power plants (FNPP) are the solution to generating safe nuclear energy. By floating in open water, FNPPs are thought to be at lower risk of damage from tsunamis...

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‘Waterproof’ nanocoatings

Nanotechnology-based waterproof coatings are taking the internet by storm. Companies such as NeverWet, P2i and UltraEverDry are promising to protect your precious objects, electronics and home surfaces with their nanomaterial products. Albeit for only about a year before they start to break down – especially when exposed to light. These products use a wide range of chemicals, some of which we’ve sadly encountered before – such as fluorocarbons...

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The wooly mammoth project

Along with the Passenger pigeon, the thylacine and the dodo, new stories about the woolly mammoth just won’t go away. You know − the one where they bring them back from extinction. Termed ‘de-extinction’, scientists are talking about taking the genomes of living species and editing, gene-by-gene, to re-create entire genomes. Harvard University Professor George Church even claims that reanimating the woolly mammoth could...

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