• We just took the first step toward clean energy production…
  • With this technology, we could “beam” ourselves into meetings…
  • Life could be much more prevalent in space than we ever imagined…

Dear Reader,

Given that politics are front and center this week, I thought that we might revisit another political topic – masks.

Not long ago, I wrote about the largest study on masks ever conducted.

A team in Denmark performed extensive research that included a randomized trial of 6,000 people. The research title is “Reduction in COVID-19 Infection Using Surgical Facial Masks Outside the Healthcare System.” It was completed on June 2 of this year.

The title of the research is not the outcome of the trial – it was the hypothesis of the trial.

And the problem is that it has not yet been published. The world has been waiting for five months… for research that is critically important for setting policy.

And now we know why it hasn’t been published yet.

An email has surfaced from Thomas Lars Benfield, one of the lead investigators of the study. When asked directly why the research had not yet been released, he replied that the findings would be released “as soon as a journal is brave enough.”

Why won’t medical journals publish the research from Denmark? Simple. The results do not support the current political narrative around masks.

Had the research proven the efficacy of masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19, it would have been published immediately back in June. It’s almost certain that the results disprove the theory that masks stop the spread of COVID-19.

I use the word “theory” intentionally because it simply hasn’t been proven in any medical research.

Just days ago, in the New England Journal of Medicine, well-known virologist Angela Rasmussen from Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity wrote the following:

There is insufficient evidence to support the claim that masks reduce the infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 and the severity of Covid-19, much less that their use can induce protective immunity. Substantial knowledge gaps must be addressed before claims are made about the efficacy of face masks in reducing morbidity or eliciting immune responses.

The rumor about the Danish research, however – and right now it is just a rumor – is that there is a negative correlation concerning the efficacy of masks.

More simply put, that would mean that the incidence of contracting COVID-19 is higher for those wearing masks.

Logically, does this rumor make sense? Could the results of the research actually prove this to be the case?

Well, there are two things that we know to be factual:

  • Research was conducted back in 2015 on the efficacy of mask usage in a hospital setting and whether or not they demonstrated efficacy against an airborne virus. The results demonstrated that those who wore cloth masks had a higher incidence of contracting the virus compared to those that didn’t wear a cloth mask. The reason was that the viral particles would get caught in the warm, damp cloth masks and prolong exposure.

  • When people wear masks, they touch their faces far more frequently than they would otherwise. They touch the area around their ears, especially the area around their noses, as they continually adjust their masks and also touch their eyes. When we do this, we are literally increasing the risk that we are bringing viral particles on our hands directly to our faces.

And as a visual, if readers haven’t seen my previous issue about research that was conducted about how air particles – and thus viral particles – move about when we wear a mask, please have a look here. It will only take a second.

I shared some really cool videos that were created by physicists to demonstrate how ineffective even N95 masks are in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Why am I sharing this information? No, it is not to be political.

For the minority of us who might be in an at-risk category (I have been myself and I already caught COVID-19 back in March – symptomatic), this is exactly the kind of information that I’d like to have. Being told that masks will protect us and stop the spread of COVID-19 is patently wrong.

Worse yet, it provides a false sense of security, which has already cost many “at-risk” people their lives.

I’m following the data. Here in The Bleeding Edge, we actually read the research. Just as Rasmussen said above, there is “insufficient evidence.” Every research report about masks always uses language like “may prove to be effective” or “should reduce the transmission.”

Not a single research report provides evidence that masks do reduce transmission, let alone proving that masks are capable of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

No matter what the results are from the Danish mask study, I’ll share them with you all here at The Bleeding Edge. I can’t wait to see the data, and I can only hope that whatever the results are, they are used to set logical, rational policy around the world.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish off the week by sharing some data that might surprise us about mask usage around the world. It will be a quick and easy chart that provides us some interesting insights.

Now let’s turn to today’s insights…

The moment of “first plasma” in a nuclear fusion reactor just happened…

We have to start today with a breakthrough in the world of nuclear fusion technology.

The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in the U.K. just achieved “first plasma” in its nuclear fusion reactor, the Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST).

As a reminder, nuclear fusion is the power of the Sun. It involves taking light nuclei and combining them into a heavier nucleus. This produces an enormous amount of energy. And it is 100% clean energy.

Unlike nuclear fission, forms of nuclear fusion produce no radioactive waste.

The moment of first plasma – or the confirmation that the reactor can create and sustain plasma – is the first step toward limitless clean energy.

This development at the Culham Centre caught my eye because of the approach to nuclear fusion.

Rather than using the popular donut-shaped tokamak reactor, the CCFE is using a spherical tokamak reactor. Tokamaks are devices that use magnetic fields to contain the plasma, the nuclear fusion reaction. Here is what it looks like:

MAST Fusion Reactor

Source: BBC

Aside from the spherical tokamak design, Culham has also built a Super-X divertor into its design. This is important.

Obviously, if we are going to recreate the power of the Sun inside a reactor, it’s going to produce a lot of heat.

One of the biggest challenges with maintaining a nuclear fusion reactor is that materials just can’t withstand the extremely high temperatures for long. This requires components to be replaced frequently. That’s costly, time consuming, and it also means reactor downtime.

And that’s where the Super-X divertor comes in. It redirects the heat away from the reactor. That shields the materials from the heat and increases their longevity.

When I look at this design, I see something that is commercially viable. This reactor could be replicated and used to build out a decentralized power grid of 100% clean energy.

And what’s so exciting is that this is just the beginning. The industry is starting to experiment with different designs to see which are most effective. Companies are going to innovate and iterate until they get it right.

In about 10 years’ time, we’re going to be looking back on the industry and reflecting on when individual companies, universities, and research organizations working in the nuclear fusion space had their “first plasma.”

I can’t help but think that we are witnessing historic moments in time right now.

This early stage company will make teleportation possible…

An early stage funding round just caught my eye. A company called PORTL Hologram just raised $3 million in an early stage angel round backed by famed venture capitalist Tim Draper.

What’s exciting about this company is that it is doing great work with holographic technology.

PORTL developed essentially a studio-in-a-box for holographic imaging. It’s a refrigerator-sized portal that plugs into the wall. Anyone with a microphone and a white background can then “teleport” into the display box and interact with others remotely.

Here’s a visual:

The PORTL Hologram Machine

Source: TechCrunch

How cool is that?

This is the perfect post-pandemic use of technology. With many people working remotely, this technology could allow us to “beam” into meetings and talk to each other as if we were in the same room together.

Of course, there are countless other business and entertainment uses for this as well.

I’ve said before, only half-jokingly, that one day I’ll beam into readers’ homes and read each issue of The Bleeding Edge to them. That day isn’t too far off. The technology is getting there…

The main drawback with PORTL’s current holographic “booth” is that it costs $60,000. That’s clearly not a price point for consumers.

The good news is that PORTL is also looking to build out a mini version of this device. That may bring the price point down to a level that would allow faster adoption on a much broader scale.

I’m curious to see what these PORTL minis will look like. And I’m sure the $3 million just raised will go a long way toward the development of that product.

Somebody is going to crack the code for making holographic imaging for the mass market.

I envision that many will have a space in their house, perhaps a corner in their home office designed for holographic image capture. That way, they can beam into meetings and social visits in perfect fidelity at a moment’s notice.

I’ll certainly be tracking PORTL closely from here. Let’s add this company to our early stage watchlist.

Proof that life can survive in space…

The University of Vienna just put out an interesting research paper that caught my attention.

The paper was published in the medical journal Microbiome. It covers an experiment that was conducted where a form of bacteria called Deinococcus radiodurans was sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) for 12 months.

Here’s the kicker – the bacteria didn’t get to live inside the ISS for a year. It was placed outside – in space – to see if it could survive.

Our first reaction would probably be that we wouldn’t expect any life form to be able to survive for long in space. The temperatures are near absolute zero, and there’s no atmosphere to protect against the extreme ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun.

And to be sure, the bacteria did suffer damage to its DNA in these harsh conditions. But it didn’t die.

In fact, the bacteria repaired itself. Then it adjusted to the conditions so that it could survive for the duration of its stay in space. Incredible.

We don’t talk about astrobiology much in these pages. But a few weeks ago, we did talk about what appears to be a form of life living in the clouds of Venus. The scientific community will be investigating that extensively, and we already have another mission to Venus planned.

And now we see that it is indeed possible for life to live in the harsh conditions of space. The implications of that are wide-ranging.

What if there are life-forms on various asteroids and space debris hurtling through space that somehow find themselves on another planet? Organisms can clearly survive extended periods of time in space, which means that it is possible for forms of life to “commute” from one celestial body to another.

And this means that life could be much more prevalent in space than we ever imagined…

That’s part of why I’m so excited about the progress we’ve been seeing lately in the realm of space exploration.

Over the next two decades, we’re going to make extraordinary discoveries about our own galaxy and even our own solar system. And hopefully, we’ll finally be able to answer one simple question…

Are we alone?

We have so much to look forward to.

Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

Like what you’re reading? Send your thoughts to [email protected].