Science News

Cargo drones for transporting goods over long distances are about to become a reality

Elroy Air, a California start-up, has successfully completed tests related to the first flight of a cargo drone. This is an unmanned aircraft that can carry heavy loads and that could begin to make real deliveries by mid-2020.

This is a sector, that of delivering goods with unmanned vehicles or aircraft, which could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars according to analysts.

Among the various sub-sectors, more and more space is being given to delivery by cargo drones, which could completely revolutionize the entire industry of logistics.

It is precisely in this sector that Elroy is trying to enter, together with other start-ups, using Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, ie aircraft that take off and land vertically, in this case without even the pilot, and which so they won’t even need a track but just some free space.

Furthermore, those used by Elroy stand out from the crowd because they are not small or medium-sized drones. These are much larger cargo drones, capable of carrying much heavier loads and capable of covering much longer distances.

The company, in any case, hopes, at least initially, to use its first aircraft for the delivery of medical supplies or for the delivery of sensitive material, for example after a disaster or during military missions. However, the same start-up makes it clear that it does not disdain any collaboration with shipping companies such as FedEx or UPS.

The first prototype built by the company, called Chaparral, will be able to carry more than 100 pounds of materials for at least 480 miles.

Science News

An important discovery was made about trypanosomes, parasites that cause serious diseases

“Elusive” proteins have been defined as those identified by a group of researchers at the University of Alberta, a discovery that could lead to new therapies that are less painful and more efficient with regard to African sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.

In the study, published in the Life Science Alliance, the discovery of the PEX3 protein is described. Until this study it was believed that this protein did not exist in the trypanosome, a kind of parasite that leads to various infections as well as to the aforementioned diseases.

This protein is an essential component for many living things, including humans as well as the trypanosomes themselves. Its task is to manage peroxisomes, particular cells that break down fatty acids and amino acids, an essential process to obtain energy.

The interruption of the action of PEX3 in the parasites could in fact be a more than efficient method to kill them without damaging the patient.

Rick Rachubinski, cell biologist and one of the authors of the study together with colleagues Hiren Banerjee and Barbara Knobloch, commented on the discovery: “Finding PEX3 in trypanosomes was very difficult. People have been looking for years and couldn’t find it. Some people said it didn’t exist, that it was a different mechanism, but we thought the simplest answer was that we hadn’t found it yet.”

Science News

Birds living near airports are more prone to deafness

The birds that live around the airports show more aggression and chirp as if they have hearing problems. This is the discovery made by a group of researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University and the Institute of Biology of Leiden.

The researchers analyzed the Phylloscopus collybita, also known in Italian as luì piccolo, a small passerine bird. In particular, they analyzed populations living near Manchester airport and near Amsterdam Schiphol airport. According to the researchers, they could be suffering from deafness due to the high frequencies emitted by aircraft engine noises.

The researchers also made this connection on the basis of previous studies that had shown that different species of birds reported a variation in chirping in relation to the environmental noise of the areas in which they lived, for example urban areas or along roads.

They also noted higher aggression on the part of Phylloscopus collybita males who live near airports, which makes them consume much more energy than will be available for breeding or defending predators.

According to the researchers, more than 16,000 birds, belonging to more than 100 different species, suffer from hearing loss due to aircraft noise.