A group of engineering students from the University of British Columbia are among the final 10 competitors in an international competition designed to find a low-cost ventilator to help patients with COVID-19.
The competition, called the Code Life Ventilator Challenge, is a global initiative by the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.
At the beginning of April, 1,029 teams from 94 countries entered the two-week challenge to create “a simple, low-cost, easy-to-manufacture and easy-to-maintain ventilator which could be deployed anywhere needed to save lives.”
Laura Stankiewicz, a PhD student in biomedical engineering and member of the UBC engineering team called “FlowO2,” said her team’s strategy was to use what was already right there.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""We were thinking about what solutions are already available in the hospital that would be an easy thing to augment, add some components to it, and convert something people already know how to use," Stankiewicz told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's On The Coast.” data-reactid=”16″>”We were thinking about what solutions are already available in the hospital that would be an easy thing to augment, add some components to it, and convert something people already know how to use,” Stankiewicz told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC’s On The Coast.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Listen to the interview with UBC PhD student Laura Stankiewicz:” data-reactid=”17″>Listen to the interview with UBC PhD student Laura Stankiewicz:
The team decided to modify a bilevel positive airway pressure machine, commonly called a BiPap machine. These devices are often used for people who have sleep apnea.
“Similar to a ventilator, it has all of the controls that are necessary to push air into your lungs and help you breath,” Stankiewicz said.
Her team has been adding extra components to the machine to make it function more like a regular ventilator, and communicate a patient’s condition more accurately to the doctor or nurse.
Stankiewicz said it was important that any component they added to the existing device would be readily available, and so far, all the additions are easily found at a hardware store or online.
In addition to the challenge of coming up with the prototype, the team has been working on the project while maintaining physical distancing.
“I live on my Skype chat with my team, pretty much all day,” Stankiewicz said, laughing.
“People [are] biking around the city trying to drop off supplies and making sure we’re not seeing each other as much as possible.”
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Lowering costs” data-reactid=”36″>Lowering costs
Using a BiPap machine and the additional components would cost as little as a tenth of what a regular ventilator costs, which can be up to $50,000.
“A BiPap usually ranges between $1,000 and $5,000 … then all of the other components that we’re adding, we’re looking for another $1,000 to $2,000,” she said.
Stankiewicz says the team still has to iron out some software issues and get some clinical feedback on the design.
The winning team will receive a $200,000 prize. The top three finalists will be announced next week.
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SpaceX’s Starship SN4 launch vehicle prototype explodes after static engine fire test – TechCrunch
SpaceX had just conducted yet another static fire test of the Raptor engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle on Friday when the test vehicle exploded on the test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. This was the fourth static fire test of this engine on this prototype, so it’s unclear what went wrong versus other static fire attempts.
This was a test in the development of Starship, a new spacecraft that SpaceX has been developing in Boca Chica. Eventually, the company hopes to use it to replace its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket, but Starship is still very early in its development phase, whereas those vehicles are flight-proven, multiple times over.
SpaceX had just secured FAA approval to fly its Starship prototype for short, suborbital test flights. The goal was to fly this SN4 prototype for short distances following static fire testing, but that clearly won’t be possible now, as the vehicle appears to have been completely destroyed in the explosion following Friday’s test, as you can see below in the stream from NASASpaceflight.com.
The explosion occurred around 1:49 PM local time in Texas, roughly two minutes after it had completed its engine test fire. We’ve reached out to SpaceX to find out more about the cause of today’s incident, and whether anyone was hurt in the explosion. SpaceX typically takes plenty of safety precautions when running these tests, including ensuring the area is well clear of any personnel or other individuals.
This isn’t the first time one of SpaceX’s Starship prototypes has met a catastrophic end; a couple of previous test vehicles succumbed to pressure testing while being put through their paces. This is why space companies test frequently and stress test vehicles during development — to ensure that the final operational vehicles are incredibly safe and reliable when they need to be.
SpaceX is already working on additional prototypes, including assembling SN5 nearby in Boca Chica, so it’s likely to resume its testing program quickly once it can clear the test stand and move in the newest prototype. This is a completely separate endeavor from SpaceX’s work on the Commercial Crew program, so that historic first test launch with astronauts on board should proceed either Saturday or Sunday as planned, depending on weather.
Proxima b, a confirmed — potentially habitable — Earth-sized planet, is a mere 4.2 light years away – The Province
At 1.17 Earth masses and in the habitable zone, scientists says it’s orbiting the nearest star to our sun
A team of scientists from the University of Geneva has confirmed the existence of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the star closest to the sun. The planet, called Proxima b, is 1.17 times the mass of Earth and is located in the habitable zone of Promixa Centauri, 4.2 light years away.
Because Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf, much smaller and cooler than the sun, its habitable zone or Goldilocks zone — neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist — is very close to the star. Proxima b orbits about 20 times closer to its star than Earth does to the sun, and a year on the planet is just over 11 Earth days long.
Red dwarf stars emit huge quantities of X-rays, and the scientists estimate the planet gets 400 times as much radiation as Earth. But Christophe Lovis, a researcher in the astronomy department of the university, was optimistic that this might not rule out the possibility of life, or at least habitability.
“Is there an atmosphere that protects the planet from these deadly rays?” he asks. “And if this atmosphere exists, does it contain the chemical elements that promote the development of life — oxygen, for example? How long have these favourable conditions existed?”
Proxima b could have a moon-sized neighbour.
Such questions will, he hopes, be answered in the next few years by the next generation of spectrometers, which will tease out data from the light of the star and its planet. The recent confirmation of Proxima b came from data from a spectrograph called ESPRESSO (Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations) mounted on the Very Large Telescope (yep, that’s its name) in Chile.
Proxima b was first detected by an earlier instrument called HARPS, or High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher. “We were already very happy with the performance of HARPS, which has been responsible for discovering hundreds of exoplanets over the last 17 years”, says lead researcher Francesco Pepe. “We’re really pleased that ESPRESSO can produce even better measurements.”
In addition, data from ESPRESSO included a second signal that could indicate yet another planet orbiting even closer to the star. “If the signal was planetary in origin, this potential other planet accompanying Proxima b would have a mass less than one third of the mass of the Earth. It would then be the smallest planet ever measured using the radial velocity method,” says Pepe. Proxima b could have a moon-sized neighbour.
Despite the relative nearness of Proxima Centauri as the sun’s closest stellar neighbour, we will have to rely on spectrographic data for the foreseeable future. Our fastest interplanetary probes, the Voyagers and New Horizons, would take tens of thousands of years to reach Proxima Centauri, even if they were headed in that direction. A plan called Breakthrough Starshot imagines a tiny probe travelling at 20 per cent of light speed, and making the journey in 20 years, but it’s still very much on the drawing board.
SpaceX’s Starship rocket prototype explodes on Texas test pad
A prototype of SpaceX’s upcoming heavy-lift rocket, Starship, exploded on Friday during ground tests in south Texas as Elon Musk’s space company pursued an aggressive development schedule to fly the launch vehicle for the first time.
The testing explosion was unrelated to SpaceX’s upcoming launch of two NASA astronauts from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center using a different rocket system, the Falcon 9 with the Crew Dragon capsule fixed on top.
A prototype vanished in an explosive fireball at SpaceX’s Boca Chica test site on Friday, as seen in a livestream recorded by the website NASA Spaceflight. There was no immediate indication of injuries. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Starship, a rocket standing 394 feet tall, is designed to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo to the moon and Mars. It is the space company’s planned next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle, the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel affordable.
The south Texas facility sits beside a small neighbourhood that SpaceX has been trying to buy up for testing space, but some residents have pushed back on the company’s offers and have accused Musk’s attorneys of unrealistically low property appraisals.
SpaceX was among the three companies awarded a combined $1 billion by NASA last month to develop rocket systems capable of ferrying cargo and humans to the moon. SpaceX proposed Starship for the award.
The FAA granted the space company a licence Thursday to begin Starship’s first suborbital flight tests, though it was unclear when those tests would occur.
Source: – Canoe
Edited By Harry Miller
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