The following is a list of seven significant new discoveries that will change the way you look at the world and. From ways to live healthier and more comfortably to what you can expect the market to do in three-five years, these things are the perfect topics for cocktail conversations, as well as the source of serious profit potential:
1. Scientists recently determined the lowest temperature at which life can sustain itself on Earth, and it’s not that low — minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 20 degrees Celsius. By “life,” we are talking mostly about one-celled critters, not trees or humans or roaches or other complex organisms that use sap or blood or other fluids to maintain warmth around individual cells. As temperature drops and ice forms, cells begin to dehydrate, pushing fluids outside the cell membrane. Remarkably, this process allows a cell to enter a state of vitrification that ultimately preserves its life. Though the cell is apparently dead and unable to function or reproduce, the dehydrated state allows it to rehydrate if temperatures are slowly increased. Therefore, the process can preserve life in harsh extremes.
Four companies have announced that they will sell self-driving automobiles by 2020…
Coincidentally, manufacturers of home and industrial food freezers seem to know this truth already, because minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which most operate. Thus, molds and bacteria won’t grow in your home freezer. Of course, they may come back to life and start reproducing when you pull that steak from the freezer and place it in the fridge to slowly thaw.
2. Nearly 70% of Americans are taking a prescription drug, and more than 50% are taking two or more drugs, says a study from the Mayo Clinic. Drug sales are at least 10% of all health care dollars spent and a huge part of the U.S. economy. Americans spend more on prescription drugs than people in any other country.
3. The following drugs each sold more than $1 billion in the third quarter of 2013, from July 1-Sept. 30:
- Abilify, a drug for depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, $1.6 billion
- Nexium, for acid reflux, $1.5 billion
- Humira, an anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis, $1.4 billion
- Cymbalta, an antidepressant, $1.4 billion
- Crestor, a statin used to reduce serum cholesterol, $1.3 billion
- Advair Diskus, two medications used in combination to help asthma patients and to help with other lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, $1.2 billion
- Enbrel, an anti-autoimmune drug used to treat psoriasis and arthritis, $1.2 billion
- Remicade, used to treat arthritis, bowel diseases like Crohn’s and skin disorders like psoriasis, $1 billion.
4. It won’t be that long before you can afford a chauffeur. Four companies have announced that they will sell self-driving automobiles by 2020: Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Tesla and Nissan. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said recently he expects to offer an autonomous vehicle even sooner, by 2017. Google, which has been working on self-driving autos for years, says robotic autos ought to be here in three-five years. The prelude is already here: NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, which has six wheels and is the size of a car, drove itself autonomously for the first time last August, navigating over rocks and ditches by examining stereo images of its terrain.
5. It’s getting colder outside, and you’ll have to pull your gloves off to use your cellphone. Or you can buy high-tech gloves just announced by Dutch firm Mujjo. Its new gloves work on touch screens such as those on phones and tablets. Regular gloves foil the many different processes touch-screen manufacturers build into their devices. Some screens measure electrical capacitance, others use resistance, some use light waves and some use sound waves. Mujjo founder Tom Canters won’t give away how his gloves work, but says:
I can say that our process is not a topical or surface treatment. The active materials are tanned into the fibers of the leather, rendering the functionality permanent. Our leather is capacitive, rather than conductive. Therefore, it generates its own electrical impulse that duplicates the human body in such a way as to trigger the touch screen.
And he says the gloves will keep working even as they wear and even if wet.
Mujjo’s high-quality techno accessories aren’t for sale at stores in the U.S., but you can order the gloves ($99 leather, $29 knit) at Mujjo.com. Do not be put off by prices in euros or worry about the 21% Dutch value-added taxes. Just read the FAQ section for how to order.
6. There’s always a chance a bit of space junk could fall on your head. And if you’ve seen the movie Gravity, you may be looking up more often. But know this: After the Russians launched Earth’s first man-made satellite into orbit — Sputnik, in 1957 — the United States keyed up a satellite tracking service called Space Surveillance Network. It follows anything in orbit that’s bigger than 4 inches in diameter. NASA reports that there are about 3,000 objects in orbit these days, but the Union of Concerned Scientists says only 1,084 are operating. The biggest and most likely to one day be threatening is the International Space Station. The Union of Concerned Scientists has its very own, rather remarkable tracking website, which you can find at this link.
There you can download a list of everything that’s in Earth orbit. According to the site, the United States has about 450 active satellites, the Russians have 110, the Chinese have 107 and the Indians have five. One thing the database will not tell you is that the global bill for TV via satellite relay is about $90 billion a year, and about half of that is spent on the U.S. market.
7. Tell your oncologist to double up. More and more studies show that combinations of at least two cancer drugs, especially if given at the same time, are the best way to treat any cancer. Researchers at the Yale Cancer Center reported in the journal Cancer Discovery a year ago that a combination of two drugs, one of which may be a statin, can halt certain melanomas. A second study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in September indicates that a combination of dabrafenib, a BRAF protein inhibitor, and the MEK inhibitor trametinib, given together, can dramatically slow resistance of melanoma tumor cells to developing resistance to either therapy.
Meanwhile, researchers at Harvard University writing in eLife recently maintain that the only way to keep cancer cells from developing resistance to any therapy is to give at least two therapies at once that attack tumors from different pathways. Any single-drug approach, their model shows, will always fail eventually.