The Daily Dose: England on the verge of national lockdown; Tardigrades are super-creatures.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary of England, has been laying the groundwork for tighter COVID-19 restrictions in England. He’s done multiple interviews stating that the remainder of areas currently under Tier 3 lockdown rules will be transitioning to Tier 4, the highest level, sooner than later. Later, the Prime Minister reiterated Hancock’s warning. “Speaking to reporters during a visit to Chase Farm hospital in north London to coincide with the first use outside trials of the new Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, Johnson agreed action was needed. ‘If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course,’ he said.”

India is joining the list of countries beginning to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens. Per Deutsch Weil, “India carried out a practice drill on Saturday ahead of the launch of one of the world’s largest vaccination programs. The dry-run came a day before the country’s Drugs Control Authority formally approved urgent-use authorization for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine. The locally developed vaccine COVAXIN produced by Bharat Biotech was also approved for emergency use at a news conference Sunday.” The country is expected to begin its roll-out later this week.

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Hong Kong researchers believe they are on the cusp of a battery revolution. Moving on from the current ubiquitous lithium ion batteries, the new source of power comes from lithium and sulfur. According to the Asian Scientist, “The team’s design involves a porous material that encapsulates sulfur nanoparticles, with numerous binding sites embedded within. These sites effectively immobilize and absorb the sulfide ions that leak from the cathode, eliminating the shuttle effect and corrosion of lithium. In doing so, the new design delivered an increased energy density beyond 300 Wh/kg, with an efficiency of over 95 percent for 80 cycles.” Scaling up battery production has always been challenge for the lithium-sulfur model but the new design hopes to have solved that problem.

Tardigrades have been all the rage among scientists of late. Their hardiness in extreme environments has been of particular interest. Now, a researcher in India has discovered yet another unexpected trait. It glows in the dark. The Scientist reports, “Curious if they could confer the UV protection to C. elegans and another species of water bear, the researchers ground up the new tardigrade to create a paste with the mystery UV-resistance substance that they could slather on the other creatures. As they were doing this, they noticed that the paste fluoresced under UV light.” What’s next for these super-creatures?

Happy New Year. Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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