Skip to main content

tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  October 15, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT

5:30 pm
case and the reaction from other nurses. we get an exclusive look along side the isil fighters. and wall street on a rough ride today. those stories and more coming up tonight at 6:00. >> announcer: this is techno a show about innovations ta can save lives. it's a show about science by scientists. let's check out the team of hard-core nerves. we go on the road to caltech. dr crystal dilworth is a scientist. tonight jelly fish - how it can help to produce submarines , and
5:31 pm
tell us about climate change. dr shini somara is a mechanical engineer, from land slides to crystals in space. we'll show you some of the most exciting research conducted in the caltech labs. >> what is it about the environment is recreating what happens in nature. >> it may help us solve some of the most complex problems. i'm phil torres. i'm an intoe meteorologist. our trees - that's right - trees responsible for smog. that's our team. let's go some science. we are in the historic town of pasadena, at the california institute of technology, known as caltech.
5:32 pm
it ranks amongst the top universities in the world for science and engineering. n.a.s.a.'s jpl was founded at caltech in the '30s and leads the way for robotic space exploration. in this edition of techknow on the road we take you inside caltech to show you the future of the scientific discovery. i'm phil torres and joined by dr shini somara, and dr crystal dilworth. crystal, you got your ph.d. , that caltech is a hot bed of scientific discoveries, happening every day. and today we are lucky enough to meet the scientists. >> absolutely, there's wonderful work. and we are caltech nerds. we have a reputation. we are featured a certain way on sit comes, "the big bang theory" tv show. >> exactly. i'll show you some of my favourite people doing incredible science. the m.e.r.s. is mcarthur --
5:33 pm
first person is mcarthur prize winner, taking an approach to energy, global conservation. >> climate change is not a far-off problem in the future. it's happening now, causing hardship now. climate change is real. we have to act now. >> the debate about whether climate change existed at all is falling to the background. i think people accept it's a reality. it's here. now it's a question of what do we do to combat it. >> on the front lines of combatting climate change is caltech aeronaughtic professor dr john deberiy. he's taking cues from animal. >> the name of the game is how to take energy and consume it. whether it's fish in the ocean, a flock of birds or a plant in a field, they have come across ways to generate energy and
5:34 pm
consume it. our goal is to use physics to extract how they do it and provide it to systems like wind energy and underwater vehicles. >> common wind tur beans are the large 3-bladed propeller type. this doctor is rethinking size, shape and effectiveness. >> the challenge you see is an individual wind turbine may be efficient but creates schopy air -- choppy air. one of the challenges is how to arrange them to deal with it. dr debery is looking under water and taking a lesson from fish. >> it occurs to us it's a different solution. so as each one flaps its heel it's creating a choppy weight. they swim together, but they arrange themselves in a way that they are able to be more efficient in the youp than they are by themselves. that's what we wanted to get after, a design for a wind farm
5:35 pm
where the turbines were more effective in the youp than they are by themselves. >> believe it or not this is a research lab. here in the dusty hot and windy analogue valley that scientists are able to test the latest hypothesis about the best way to harness energy, from all the wind. is to this windy out here? >> this is not a windy day. >> cal terk post doc trait scholar spends much of his time out here studying vertical wind tur bins. i see two wind turbines behind one. >> the smaller is a 1 kiloway. the bigger is a 2.5 kilowatt turbine. the smaller one is more beneficial for smaller applications, the bigger one produces more power but needs more wind. so it's a bit of a trade off what wind you have, how many
5:36 pm
turbines you want to supply at that position. >> reporter: what are some the vangs to the vrt call -- advantages to the vertical access turbine. >> we can space them closer. >> reporter: back in his lab he is studying a sea create our for clues on improving real-world energy efficiencies. jelly fish. >> they are simple. they are the first animals to figure out how to swim in the o. they are 500 million years old and efficient in how to use energy. we are interested in stealing the ideas and using them for different technologies allowing us to use less fuel in an underwater vehicle. >> reporter: why are they so special of. >> it's a vortex ring they create. not unlike a smoke ring. each time they contract and relax the body they create a vortex ring and push off to move through the water than we do with our steady jet propulsion that we use.
5:37 pm
>> reporter: who is interested in the research? >> the u.s. navy has been particularly interested in this technology for developing underwater vehicles that use less energy, reducing the costs of missions that they support. but it also enables new missions that they can't do currently. >> reporter: the small not so simple organisms are connected to two major issues - climate change, sustainability and energy conservation. >> that's right, it's a unique situation in which they tell us about the problem in terms of increasing population as the o chance in climate and providing clues to the solution in terms of new technologies that can be energy. thank you crystal. that was fascinating stuff. >> any time. from research in the oceans to miles above the earth aring caltech -- earth, caltech scientists works on new discovers. gwen
5:38 pm
owens, a ph.d. stupid has an experiment on the international space station above us. welcome to the show. >> thank you for having me tell me about the disease you are studying. >> the disease my lab is studying is hunting don. it affect the brain and protein build up stopping the brain functioning. 10 years after symptoms start some patients die. there's no treatment or cure. >> how does the space ranch go into your own research. >> there's a crystallography lab. to study the three-dimensional structure the best way is to get a crystal of a protein. we haven't been able to get a crystal of this particular protein causing hunting tonne's. >> is that why you are going into micro gravity. >> there's good
5:39 pm
evidence that christals grow differently in micro gravity. >> you shot your research on a rocket and it rarfeed at the disagrees -- arrived at the international space station. how did it get there? >> it arrived on spacex. there was a mission carrying our experiments but a number of others up to the international space station in late april. what does your experiment look like? >> this is an example of a device, similar to one we sent up. this is the apparatus that our proteins are loaded into for the crystalisation experiment. once we have a series of these devices we put them in a large metal box and they are put into an insulated protective container keeping it at a where was temperature. >> what are you waiting for? when do you get the results? >> when space x four comes back. >> do you have any idea what to
5:40 pm
back. >> the best case scenario is if we get a crystal of the profeep mutated. so we can see how the structure changes when a person has hunting tonne's. >> what do you do with the information when you get it? >> when we get a three-dimensional image it's updated to the protein data bank, openly accessible to anyone in the world so they can see the changes. we hope to collaborate with drugs. medicine. >> yes. when this comes back and visits us here op arth, we are going -- on earth, we are going results. >> i would love to come after the black, we'll meet for students and see how their research is changing the future of science here at "techknow" on the road at cal it can.
5:41 pm
we want to -- caltech. we want to hear what you think. join the conversation on twitter and primetime news. >> welcome to al jazeera america. >> stories that impact the world, affect the nation and touch your life. >> i'm back. i'm not going anywhere this time. >> only on al jazeera america.
5:42 pm
5:43 pm
welcome back to "techknow" on the road. we are here at caltech. i'm phil torres, and joined by dr shini somara, and dr crystal dilworth. we had the opportunity to meet the grad students who are doing amazing work. >> i met two guys trying to understand how water can landscape. i got the opportunity to meet with a student and is studying how smog forms, it's a lot more complexing than what i thought.
5:44 pm
being in l.a., smog is kind of an issue. let's look. >> reporter: air pollution in china could be described as a nuclear winter. health risks are severe, with the smog blocking sunlight, plant seedlings struggle to grow. in los angeles, smog is controlled because of reg u laces, because of research done in labs like this. >> i'm cal vin baits. >> reporter: what is your field of study and what are you working on? >> how does smog form. >> reporter: part of the answer includes trees, yes trees. don't blame them yet. >> trees given out a bunch of chemicals, obviously oxigep.
5:45 pm
>> reporter: including isopreen. >> we know that iceo preen is a main chemical emitted by trees and is responsible for a lot of smog we see. >> here is how it works. when iceo preen mixes with car and power plant exhaust, that forms ozones and other particles responsible for smog. getting to the bottom of how the process works is what kelvin is referencing. we don't know what chemical rehabilitations take place that onvert isopreens to substances that are sticky enough, essentially, to form the particles. those are the chemical rehabilitations that i'm trying to figure out. the conversion from isopreen from plants to sticky stuff into smog, that's what you are working on? >> exactly. what i try to do in the synthetic lab is make the chemicals pure so we can see which chemicals are responsible
5:46 pm
for the smog. a lot of the chemicals have not been maid in the lab before. we are trying a lot. >> reporter: ever. >> ever. we are trying new things. >> reporter: once the chemical is created under the hood it's tested across campus in a different caltech lab. >> we are in the atmospheric labs, we bring the chemicals, synthesise them and put them in the atmospheric chambers and see what happens in the environment. this is the environmental chamber. >> reporter: wow. >> two big teflon bags where we mick im what happens -- mimic what happens in the atmosphere, we put in the chemicals that you find in a forest or city. we use instruments that we developed here in the lab to see what happens to them in the atmosphere. you can see it's surrounded by banks of uv lights, and that's the mimicked sun light.
5:47 pm
we let the rehabilitations in the as moss fear happen in here. only they happen faster. >> this is basically the laboratory version of the air over los angeles. >> over los angeles, over the great smokey mountains, whatever we want to replicate we can do it in a controlled fashion than we would get than if we were to test outside. >> reporter: there's a lot going on inside the chamber. much. >> exactly. this is the data from last night's experiments. the concentrations of chemicals that are important contributors to smog. like ogown and nirt -- ozone and produce. >> reporter: what does it take way from the experiment? >> the chemical and the rehabilitation pathway is not responsible for forming the ozone in smog. >> reporter: when you finish future? >> i'm not sure. i have a good three years to go.
5:48 pm
it would be great to stay in the academic realm and do the research that i'm doing now. i think it would be interesting to bring what i have learnt about the scenes back into helping shape policies that can improve air quality in the u.s. and around the world. >> so just to clarify, we should not cut down trees, right absolutely, he just showed how trees were part of this, and when human pollutants gets in the air, mixes with the trees and we get smog. it was fascinating. >> we used to do a through the of theoretical research. what is next for kelvin? i'm convinced he'll run the e.p.a. what god to meet some interesting people. >> i met two guys trying to understand the power of water
5:49 pm
that shapes the landscape. lab. >> reporter: at cal terk jess studies how rocks and gravel cause grain in lab experiments, interacting with water and gravity and nature. can you talk me through the major components of this sperms. >> we draw water from the tank using a pump to the top of the test section, and the water runs over the gravel and we recirculate the water and we adjust the speed of the pump to adjust the discharge. we are trying to identify the condition at which things will move. we'll increase the discharge more, and that will be enough to overcome the existing stress derived from the for example of the grains and initiate a failure and the grains will move down the slopes. >> reporter: what is most
5:50 pm
exciting about the experiment is nature. >> that's the beauty of laboratory experiments, we can simplify things going on in the natural world and observe them and with the possibility of plying what we learn to the catastrophic matters that may lives. >> it's fascinating to simplify how water flows over sediment to under the science of mann slides. what happens when you make the experiment bigger and more powerful? >> reporter: this is a post doc trait scholar at caltech studying river dynamics. what is your experiments similar to in the real world? >> it's about the same size as rivers in the real world. we have the same grain types and
5:51 pm
discharges that we can reach. we pretty much are in the same configuration as in the field. >> except for one high tech edition. smart rocks. i find these cool, smart rocks. >> yes, it records the acceleration of the grain, so we can tell when a grain impacts the other grape, we can tell the impact. points. >> yes, they are labs and rocks. what speed is this? >> it's about 4 metres, i'm thinking. wow. data recorded helps to understand how the size, number and speeds of other grains erode the lands. what is the ultimate goal of your research? >> is to find a way to describe
5:52 pm
appropriately the physics that controls the erosion in the multi-range environment. >> reporter: and to help scientists better understand how landscapes were formed and how to build around the forces of nature. great stuff. i love being able to meet the young reachers here who are going to do amazing thing, not just now, but in the future. after the break we'll meet one of the rock stars of science. he's an esteemed professor, known as the man who killed pluto. as "techknow" on the road continues. >> alaska, a state that depends on it's natural beauty >> we need to make sure that we have clean air >> some are living off natures bounty >> we're rich cause of all the resources we have... >> while others say they can't even afford health insurance >> the owners of this restaurant pay an extra $5.20 an hour to provide health insurance >> communities trying to cope
5:53 pm
i just keep putting one foot in front of the other >> what can people hope for come election day? an al jazeera america special report amererica votes 2014 5 days in alaska all this week
5:54 pm
>>on tech know, the agricultural community is in crisis. >> more prolonged drought could become the new normal >> desperate for solutions >> we can make clean drinking water just using the sun >> conservation, science and hope... >> the snow is really a critical resource...
5:55 pm
>> tech know's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> this is my selfie, what can you tell me about my future? >> can effect and surprise us... >> sharks like affection >> tech know, where technology meets humanity only on al jazeera america hey, welcome back to a special episode of techknow on the road here at caltech. i'm phil torres here with dr shini somara, and dr crystal dilworth. joining us is special guest dr mike brown. dr brown is a professor of planetary astronomy. he made many significant scientific discoveries, he's probably best known as the man who killed pluto. welcome to "techknow" dr brown, why did you do it? >> the obvious answer is did it have it coming. if it wasn't me someone else would do it.
5:56 pm
>> tell me the story. >> pluto never should have been called a planet. it was a mistake, just because everyone thought it was big when it was discovered, as big as june it ter and realised it was smaller and smaller. it is smaller than our moon. and there are thousands of other things out there just like it. if pluto is not a planet, what is it? >> the official definition is work planet. which i like to think about things that look like planets. >> i love the story of the declassification of pluto. it's a great example of how new information can change the idea that a group of scientists have about something they take for time. you came up with an announcement about pluto, did you face much feedback? >> i had hate mail for many years, from young children. young children think it's
5:57 pm
funny that they know pluto is not a planet but their parents don't. i get late night phone calls, i'm certain it's children that i get the hate mail, and they are now at college and they think it's fun to ring up and yell at me. i save them. they are hilarious. there's a small number of scientists that don't like the idea, because they studied pluto, and saying that it's not a planet means it's less important. they are looking at it the wrong way. it's better to classify correctly, sensibly and explain why pluto is important. >> you found the largest object in the solar system in the last 150 years. what was it? >> this is aeris, an object leading to the debate and demotion of pluto. it's one of these objects out there in the khyber belt. it's far away, three times
5:58 pm
further away than pluto, tilted at 45 degrees, compared to the planets in the solar system. it has a moon and surface covered in methane, nitrogen in the atmosphere. most was frozen on the surface because it's so far away. it's a fascinating world. i don't think the fact that it's a dwarf planet makes it interesting. >> it's impossible to imagine that we are the only life form on earth. do you ever think about it? >> i think about the question a lot. yoth the right question -- i don't think the right question is are there other life forms, the answer has to be yes. there's no way the universe can exist that we are the only intelligent life form. that's crazy. the important question is is it common or rare. are there intelligent life form at every star that we look at. where we look up in the sky, we are the only ones and we have to
5:59 pm
go to the next galaxy and the next galaxy, that's a question we have no idea what the answer is. those are profoundly interesting questions to ask. places like uropa. if you find microbes under the ice or titan, things living in a weird exotic seas on titan, that answers that question. that tells you life is easy to form if you give it the right conditions, you can't stop it forming. that will be fascinating. once we no that, we can answer the question in a sensible way. and that there are life forms around every 100 stars or 10 stars that we know. >> thank you for joining us, thank you for killing pluto. i think we know that it deserved it. that now wraps up a special enseed of techknow on the road here at caltech. be sure to
6:00 pm
join us next time: dive deep into these stories and go behind the scenes. follow our expert contributors on google, facebook and more. >> another case of ebola is diagnosed. one the nurses on the front li line. >> well, we look at isil's practice as u.s. air campaign is just buying time in the fight against the group.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on