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Nature Science

Researchers are developing a new vaccine to treat Lyme Disease

Scientists are developing a vaccine to help treat Lyme disease.

Humans can get Lyme disease through the transmission of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium from the bite of an infected tick.

Called VLA15, the vaccine works by stimulating the immune system to make antibodies that ward off 6 of the most common types of Lyme-causing bacteria in the tick’s gut.

Valneva, the biotech company in France developing the vaccine, is currently in phase II of testing. Writes the Scientific American:

The Food and Drug Administration gave VLA15 fast-track designation in July 2017. Valneva completed initial safety studies in a Phase 2 clinical trial and, according to a company press release , VLA15 “had no associated safety concerns.” The company is now working to determine the dose. Based on current estimates, Lingelbach said Valneva plans to test the vaccine in a clinical trial of at least 15,000 people, and it should be available in four or five years.

There is a second immunity being developed to prevent Lyme disease as well.

Called Lyme pre-exposure prophylaxis (Lyme PrEP), it works by sending a single antibody as a vaccine and is known to have fewer side effects than the VLA15.

The new vaccines build off the original Lyme disease vaccine called LYMErix developed twenty years ago. But production stopped due to fears of the side effects.

Unlike other viruses, Lyme disease is hard to treat since it pervades the body’s tissue in addition to the blood. Joint pain, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, and confusion are some of the symptoms of Lyme disease.

In a worst-case scenario, the bacteria can even dominate the entire central nervous system, producing disastrous effects on the human body.

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Animals Science

Anthropologist Grover Krantz donated his body to science with this one condition

Grover Krantz was one of the few anthropologists who dedicated their time to studying Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot.

As a cryptozoologist, Krantz believed that Bigfoot might exist and did everything he could to research it. Five of his ten books explored the possible existence of the ape-like creature.

Perhaps even more interestingly, the peculiar scientist donated his body to science with the one condition that his dog Clyde, an Irish wolfhound, would be right by him.

“I’ve been a teacher all my life and I think I might as well be a teacher after I’m dead, so why don’t I just give you my body,” said Krantz. “But there’s one catch: You have to keep my dogs with me.”

Both Krantz and Clyde are on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

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Science Space

Nasa unveils Pumpkin sun just in time for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween, NASA has posted a photo of the sun that looks like a massive flaming jack-o’-lantern.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shot the photo earlier this month.

The fiery slits in the image reveal the most active parts of the sun.

Writes NASA:

Active regions on the sun combined to look something like a jack-o-lantern’s face on Oct. 8, 2014. The active regions appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy — markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. This image blends together two sets of wavelengths at 171 and 193 angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO
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Nature Science Travel

How Australia’s Lake Hillier gets its pink color

Lake Hillier in the Recherche Archipelago of Western Australia is known for its pink color.

The lake’s bubble-gum color continues to be debated but scientists indicate that the pink body of water is the result of the intermixing of Halobacteria and a salt-tolerant algae species called Dunaliella Salina.

The Halobacteria is known to produce red pigments which when mixed with salt-tolerant Dunaliella Salina, creates a stunning strawberry milkshake color.

Australia's Lake Hillier pink color
via twitter

Unlike other pink lakes that morph into colors, Lake Hillier retains its pink hue all year round. It’s also safe to swim in.

When viewed from above, the contrast between the pink and dark blue ocean is also striking. You can learn more here.

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Science

Watch a soap bubble freeze

Did you know that you can blow up soap bubbles and instantly freeze them into ice orbs?

If you’re searching for a fun cold-weather activity, this is worth trying out.

Popular Science explains the science behind bubble freeze, in addition to instructions on how to make one.

There’s some interesting science at play here. Every bubble is made up of three individual layers: a thin layer of water molecules squished between two layers of soap. It might look like the entire surface of the bubble is freezing, but what you’re actually seeing is the innermost layer of water—which freezes at warmer temperatures than soapy water—turning to ice within the film.

As the soapy water turns into ice crystals, the inside of the bubble appears to swirl around to create a beautiful effect of a snowglobe — very photographic!

But the ice bubbles don’t last forever, notes bubble photographer Chris Ratzlaff: “Bubbles are such ephemeral things,” he says. “To be able to literally freeze them in time is such a rare experience.”

Enjoy some more bubble freezing videos below:

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Science Technology

Google achieves “quantum supremacy” with the 54-qubit Sycamore processor

Image via Google

Google confirmed that it has officially achieved achieved quantum supremacy with the 54-qubit Sycamore processor.

Writes Engineering Director Hartmut Neven on Google’s blog:

Today, the scientific journal Nature has published the results of Google’s efforts to build a quantum computer that can perform a task no classical computer can; this is known in the field as “quantum supremacy.” In practical terms, our chip, which we call Sycamore, performed a computation in 200 seconds that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years.

IBM has downplayed the innovation saying that the the classical computer can run the same simulation in 2.5 days.

Writes the IBM Research Blog, “We argue that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity. This is in fact a conservative, worst-case estimate, and we expect that with additional refinements the classical cost of the simulation can be further reduced.”

IBM also said that Google “failed to fully account for plentiful disk storage” in a traditional supercomputer to exaggerate the supremacy of its machine.

Both Google and IBM make valid points, with the objective takeaway being how quantum computing will make its way into everyday tasks and how much more potential there is in classical computing.

Either way, the 54-qubit Sycamore processor is a far cry from the 5MB hard drive that IBM released in 1956 that weighed over a ton.