Author: Tanuj Kumar

Did climate change cause these hurricanes?

Tropical cyclones, climatology, and capitalism In the past few weeks, the damage resulting from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have been dominating headlines. Harvey was the first, moving along the south Caribbean before taking a turn by the Yucatan Peninsula and then becoming a Category 4 before making landfall in southern Texas. It was the first hurricane to do so since Wilma in 2005. What came after was the absolute decimation compounded by what is best described as solidarity interlaced with a deep lack of empathy. As record-breaking levels of hurricane rains flooded Houston, local residents and helpers from...

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The science of studying

The science of studying Tanuj Ashwin Kumar School will soon be in full swing! As is part of the usual first-year rituals, you are about to cast yourself into a new university life with a fresh outlook on things—even if you might still be a little confused about yourself and your future. One thing’s for sure though; you  want to make sure you can jump into your course work with enough verve and vigour that you’ll be able to balance everything elegantly while having enough weird school stories to tell your friends. But you may be faced with a...

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A brief review of 2016’s major scientific leaps

As this volume of The Strand comes to an end, let’s recap some of the biggest scientific events in the tumultuous year of 2016.   GRAVITATIONAL WAVES   Perhaps the biggest news out of physics in 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s (LIGO for short) discovery of gravitational waves put to rest a 100-year old hypothesis from Einstein’s time and confirmed particular theories about the structure of space-time, and supplemented Einstein’s existing theory of general relativity. There were in fact two recorded measurements within close time spans of each other, but the initial LIGO measurement from the merging of two black holes is the most well known.   PROXIMA CENTAURI’S POTENTIALLY HABITABLE PLANET  A startling next-door neighbour, and a welcomed source of jokes to act as a potential respite from the political mess that was late 2016, the discovery of Proxima Centauri B as lying within the habitable zone of the closest star to our Sun marked debates and discussion of what the planet might look like, how habitable it could be, and whether or not we could actually visit—or at least send robotic probes there—within our lifetimes. Above all, it showed that, ultimately, the amount of habitable worlds in our galaxy alone appears to be so numerous as to have one right next door to us.   CARBON DIOXIDE STORED AS STONE  The unique geological and geothermic conditions of Iceland allow it to be a hotbed of experimental energy-based efforts, the latest of...

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Revolutionary Gene-editing Technique Has Its First Clinical Anti-Cancer Tests in Humans

As the world grows more complex, we see hopeful signs of progress in the field of gene-based medicinal therapy. In particular, the famous CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique has been gaining significant traction due to its simplicity and versatility. On October 28th, Dr. Lu You’s team at Sichuan University in Chengdu successfully implanted cells containing CRISPR-edited genes into a patient with lung cancer. While this may seem like a small step, it is a result with heavy implications for the future of biomedical research. Carl June, an immunotherapy specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, described the implications of this progress best, calling the possibility for an ensuing international duel in biomedical research “Sputnik 2.0.”

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