Science round up

Here some scientific news we believe might be relevant for a future space-based society.

Sugar & Soda tax

Berkeley’s soda tax election changed drinking habits months before prices went up

Yet another study that suggest that taxing sugary drinks will decrease the consumption of soda. Soda consumption is a major cause of obesity, which in turn is a major factor in developing medical conditions like diabetes. Reduce soda consumption will improve public health and hence reduce medical expenses.

Alcohol and neural development

Brain growth inhibited by heavy alcohol use

One more study that shows the negative effects of alcohol consumption on neural development. Slowed brain growth is a major impediment to cognitive development and hence performance at school and in later life. Thus this is one more reason to discourage the consumption of alcohol.

Restoring cognition

Blocking protein’s activity restores cognition in old mice

Dementia is a growing problem in society as average life expectancy is growing. A reliable method to improve cognitive abilities of our senior citizens will reduce the social costs of dementia as well improve both the productivity and quality of life of the elderly.

Computers and Agriculture

The future of agriculture is computerized

No real surprise here, as computers are increasingly become part of human life. In space settlements farming will probably rely even more on computerization and robotics to improve efficiency and reduce labor demand.

Spider silk

Bacterial factories could manufacture high-performance proteins for space missions

Though spider silk is widely known as a very strong and flexible material, there is currently no known method to produce it commercially. Spider farming is virtually impossible, so most scientists have explored genetic engineering to produce this substance at an industrial scale.

So far efforts have focused on transgene plants with some limited success. Now scientists claim that genetically modified bacteria might be a suitable method to mass produce spider silk proteins.

We can assume that the residents of future space settlements are likely to support GMOs as an integral part of life than current terrestrial population.