Diabetes-Reversing Drug

In a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, A new drug tested in mice increased the number of beta cells in the pancreas sevenfold, effectively reversing diabetes symptoms.

This achievement, described as a “functional diabetes cure,” is unprecedented in drug development.

In just three months, the mice’s cells began producing insulin again through a combination of two drugs: harmine, which inhibits the enzyme DYRK1A, and a GLP1 receptor agonist, found in the diabetes drug Ozempic.

Researchers from Mount Sinai and City of Hope tested their drug by injecting human beta cells into mice and then administering the treatment. The beta cells increased sevenfold in three months, with diabetes symptoms disappearing within a month after treatment stopped.

Previous attempts at this concept involved converting stem cells into human pancreas beta cells in vitro and transplanting them into diabetes patients, a costly and time-consuming procedure.

“This is the first time scientists have developed a drug treatment that increases adult human beta cell numbers in vivo,” said Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Ocaña, corresponding author of the study. “This research brings hope for future regenerative therapies to treat the hundreds of millions of people with diabetes.” Harmine alone has undergone a phase 1 clinical trial in humans for safety and tolerability, but DYRK1A inhibitors have not.

The Window to the Soul

It is commonly said that eyes are the windows to the soul. This is not surprising, because there is something captivating about eyes.

Out of this fascination of eyes has come a new form of photography which takes an amazingly detail image of your iris. The images are absolutely stunning. IrisPhoto is one of the companies that do this type of photography.

Here is their Instagram if you want to view more of their work!

The North Star Cannibalism

Polaris, the North Star, is one of the most famous stars in the sky, yet it remains an enigma. Recent reassessments of its fundamental properties, such as mass and distance from Earth, suggest that Polaris appears paradoxically youthful.

This strangeness might lead one to think astronomers have miscalculated its age. However, the truth might be even stranger: stars can sometimes rejuvenate themselves, turning back the cosmic clock.

Polaris is actually a multistar system where several stars orbit one another. Even a small backyard telescope will reveal Polaris as two stars: the bright Polaris A and the fainter Polaris B. Further observations show that Polaris A is actually a very tight binary system, consisting of two stars (Aa and Ab) orbiting closely together.

Polaris Aa, the giant and brightest of the trio, is usually what astronomers refer to when they mention Polaris. It is a special type of star known as a Cepheid variable, which periodically brightens and dims. Polaris Aa’s brightness changes by about 4% over roughly four days. Cepheid variables are crucial for astronomy because the duration of their brightness cycle correlates with their intrinsic luminosity. This relationship allows astronomers to measure cosmic distances by comparing intrinsic brightness with observed brightness.

Polaris is the closest Cepheid variable to Earth, making its distance measurement critical. Accurate distance measurements to Polaris help calibrate distances to more distant Cepheids and galaxies. However, measuring the distance to Polaris has proven difficult due to its brightness, which saturates most modern telescopes. Estimates have varied widely, from 300 to 450 light-years, which is a significant uncertainty for such an important star.

In 2018, astronomers used a clever method to refine Polaris’s distance. They assumed that Polaris B is physically associated with Polaris A and used the Hubble Space Telescope to measure Polaris B’s distance via parallax. The result, 521 light-years, was a surprising but significant finding.

Astronomer Richard I. Anderson analyzed observations of Polaris Aa and used physical models to understand its characteristics. His findings suggest that Polaris Aa, with seven times the mass of the sun at 521 light-years away, aligns with the new distance measurement. However, this creates a paradox: Polaris Aa appears to be only about 54 million years old, while its companion, Polaris B, seems to be over two billion years old. This discrepancy challenges the notion that both stars formed simultaneously from the same gas cloud.

The possible explanation is that Polaris Aa underwent a stellar merger. A third star might have collided and merged with one of the existing stars, rejuvenating Polaris Aa. This merger would mix the star’s gas, giving it a youthful appearance. Such mergers, while rare, are known to occur. Evidence of material ejected into space supports this hypothesis.

Without the merger, Polaris Aa would be a lower-mass star that looks its true age of around two billion years. Instead, the merger increased its mass, causing it to age faster. This explains why Polaris Aa, despite appearing young, is nearing the end of its life as a red supergiant.

If this “stellar merger” theory holds, we can confidently use Polaris to calibrate distances to other Cepheid variables and galaxies. This calibration is fundamental to measuring the vast distances in the universe.

Polaris has long guided explorers on Earth, and it continues to guide astronomers in mapping the cosmos.

First Vertical Landing

It took SpaceX years to successfully achieve the first vertical landing of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket. Inspired by this, model rocket designers have attempted to recreate the feat. Joe Barnard’s BPS.space finally accomplished it in 2022 after seven years of effort. Now, a high school student has joined the ranks of those who have achieved a vertical landing.

In a video uploaded to YouTube on July 5 under his company’s account, JRD Propulsion, Aryan Kapoor describes his journey, which began in August 2021, to design a model rocket capable of propulsive landing. After three years of development, testing, and many failures, he successfully landed his rocket on May 25 after four previous launch attempts.

Unlike Barnard’s iteration, Kapoor’s rocket is an original design rather than a scale replica of a SpaceX rocket. Kapoor’s model uses two solid-propellant motors—one for liftoff and one for descent and soft landing. Kapoor’s rocket features an innovative design that replaces stability fins with thrust-vector controls using a 3D-printed gimbal mount.

Despite some issues with the propellent ejection, Kapoor’s rocket succeeded in its first landing.

Check out his video of the successful launch and how he approached the design. It shows some impressive innovation and determination.

Cars That Can See In the Dark

Pedestrian deaths by car surged 19 percent from 2019 to 2022, with three-quarters of fatalities occurring after dark, according to AAA. In response, automotive technology supplier Magna, a mobility technology company, is addressing this issue with thermal technology, now installed on 1.2 million vehicles and counting.

Originally named “Night Vision” and introduced on the 2005 BMW 7 Series, Magna’s thermal sensing product can see the road ahead up to four times farther than typical headlights. Currently available on 40 different vehicle models across 13 manufacturers—this technology aims to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

How It Works
A microbolometer, or an uncooled thermal sensor, which began as military technology in the late 1970s, was declassified after the 1991 Gulf War. Thermal imaging has since been adopted by many industries such as municipal firefighting services to see through smoke and is now widely used in the security sector.

Magna’s latest generation of thermal technology offers improved road coverage, enhanced detection capabilities, and a clearer image through fog, smoke, snow squalls, or complete darkness. Unlike visible light, thermal cameras are unaffected by headlights or sun glare, making them a robust solution against distracted driving. Its ability to see through smoke or fog and can also help avoid disasters like when fog caused a 158-car pileup in Louisiana last year.

An infrared video camera mounted in front of the vehicle detects temperature differences as small as 1/10th of a degree, creating a highly detailed thermal image of the road. Using convolutional neural networks, the software generates three-dimensional data for image classification and object recognition.

The system can detect animals, pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and more up to 100 meters and beyond and alert the drivers of the hazards.

Magna’s camera, once too large to fit in a trunk, is now the size of a golf ball and set to get even smaller. The next-gen thermal sensing technology, debuting next year, will include 360-degree visual range for better visibility in all directions, addressing back-over accidents and extending detection to up to three football fields, thus increasing stopping time and potentially saving more lives.

Here is an interesting video demonstrating this feature: