Monday, June 29, 2009

Superbugs : Energy of future

Energy... the capability to do work... for which the entire world work with all the power, how much we get, its not enough, the requirement is ever increasing, with such an accelerating rate that we are forced to think what will be the future resources for energy. What will be it is? Energy is one of our basic needs which we can’t compensate with any other things. It’s said that after the invention of printing machine by Gutenberg, the world doesn’t remains the same, so the case of electricity, simply we can’t think about a world without electricity.
Bt-toxins present in peanut leaves
(bottom image) protect it
 from extensive damage caused by
European corn borer larvae (top image)

Now how we can produce electricity? Hydro-energy? But do we have enough forests to lose? Thermal Energy? But do we need more atmospheric pollution? Nuclear? But do we have an efficient system to utilise the waste? [Even if the Yuta Mountain project shows a promising way, it is highly costly] Solar? wind? wave? But can we get so much energy through it [that too in practical and economical way] to complete the energy needs of a country? Hydrogen based fuels? But do we find out the best technology to use it? So how we can extract more energy, without side effects? And how we can be free from the question of Global warming and the high density of green house gases?

Sometimes news papers reports news like scientists found new bacteria under the glaciers, a new bug found in deep mines... But, did we ever think, how they survive under such extreme situations? How they satisfy their energy needs? Without Oxygen, solar energy and in extreme conditions of glaciers and mines. Here Darwin Principle come to action...”Survival of the fittest". They utilise whatever they get, these extremophiles can transfer the resource available to them to energy, and that too with very high degree of efficiency. So why we don’t genetically engineer them to transform to satisfy our needs of energy?

We all heard about software called Adobe Photoshop, it widely used in photo editing and for many other purposes, it’s an excellent one. Using that you can put the head of someone in someone else body, u can create new creatures in computer. You can design it in such a way that it will satisfy your needs, its colour, shape, properties etc are designed by you, and you can print it out. But how it’s possible? Because the designer of the software know how it formed.

Do you ever thought about software like Genome Photoshop?

Some years ago humans completed a great project called Human Genome Project, to know the details of human genes, as we know the genes are the basic things which decides everything related to it, every information is coded in it, that information decide who we are and what our characteristics, suppose we are able to design some alterations in the extremophiles in such a way that in the place of sulphur [which is the input-Sulphur and

Hydrogen for a microscopic bug discovered in 2006 in a South African gold mine and that too two miles underground]-which is the input now- to CO2 and the output will be some form of energy?

If we are able to do so, we can remove the oil from sea; we can purify water; we can absorb the green house gases; we can prevent radiations from power plants, and we can turn anything to energy, by changing inputs to these bugs.

The industrial use of microbes also have a long story to say; this story began when a young Chemist in Manchester named Chain Weizmann discovered a microscopic organism which can convert corn into acetone - a highly important ingredient in explosives - during World War one, years gone; humans knowledge in the microbiology increased further, Human Genome Project come and find success, more and more DNA projects are going on. We are knowing more and more about the Nature's Engineering skills and nearly a century later scientists found success in producing second generation bio fuels, and more and more research is going in, in this sector.

Now agencies are doing very active research in this sector, if it succeed this will solve most of our problem related to energy and pollution, and maybe we are even able to compensate most of the losses happened to nature.

This also produces more challenges to the IT, Microbiology, Genetic Engineering and Physics sector. IT sector have to produce new software to design gene systems and its modelling, Physics, Microbiology and Genetic Engineering have to produce new tools for writing gene systems and thus to produce new bugs.

But along with this we have to make sure that we should not produce such bugs which will be immune to our antibiotics and will become a threat to us, and also have to make sure that this knowledge will not be utilised for biological wars.

These things are easy to imagine but not easy to execute, these types of projects requires enormous funding. but I think once we are able to do Gene writing and software modelling, then it will become economical, and it will solve much threats to our existence in the Earth and also will open new vistas in space travelling and visiting nearby galaxies in the future as it will teach as how to live on the extreme conditions.

Everyone in the world wants energy; it may be in the form of food to eat, oil or gas for running the vehicle, electricity to run motors etc... But the question of this game is how we can produce it without doing much harm to our mother-nature, and in an economical way. The question of the game is- are we ready to fund for the research in these new frontiers of science for energy or are we satisfied with the available ones? If have to find out anything new then we should be ready to fund on new projects, to open the new vistas in life, to get more light in house and that too with smaller bill.


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

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