Will This New Male Birth Control Gel Actually Work?

Let’s talk about sex. I know that’s the last thing most of you
wanted to hear me say, but I have big science-related news about it! Right now clinical trials are underway for
a new form of birth-control for men. Currently if you’re a man and you want to
be the responsible one while doinking, there’s really only two options – a vasectomy, which
is not convenient or always reversible; or a condom, which is convenient, cheap, and
effective at stopping both pregnancies and STDs when used correctly. But some men don’t like the way a condom
affects the sensation of sex and would rather do without it. Or so I’ve heard. So the two methods of male birth control rely
on physical barriers to stop sperm from reaching an egg. By contrast, there are a lot of female birth
control options, and most of them use hormones to prevent an egg from being around in the
first place. So what’s stopping men from using some kind
of hormonal birth control too? Well in theory, nothing really, and male hormonal
birth control has been tested before, though so far none have been successful. This new clinical trial is aiming giving it
another shot, testing the drug on men in 7 countries around the world. The new drug uses two hormones. One is progestin, a synthetic form of the
steroid/hormone progesterone that women’s bodies use to regulate ovulation and pregnancies. The purpose of the progestin in the experimental
new male birth control is to lower sperm count. But to prevent the progestin from negatively
impacting the men’s sex drive or causing other changes like increased acne or weight
gain, the second hormone present is testosterone. That may sound counterproductive since testosterone
plays a role in sperm production, but actually when a man’s body gets testosterone from
an outside source, the testes stop producing it and sperm count drops as well. Perhaps best of all is the form this birth
control comes in. It’s a gel that’s intended to be rubbed
on the arms and shoulders, so guys there’s no excuse not to use it because it doesn’t
feel good. Heck you play your cards right and you can
literally get a massage out of it. A rub-on gel is a lot kinder of a delivery
system than say a pill, or a vaginal ring, or an IUD, or an implant, or a shot, or basically
any method women currently have for hormonal birth control. But it’s not something that a man can slap
on, give himself a quick rub, and get right to the business of no-baby-making. Men make 1,000 sperm a second, they are just
churning out DNA bullets all the time. To be sure all those little meiosis tadpoles
are culled to safe levels, the trial is having men rely on other contraceptives while they
apply the gel daily for almost 20 weeks. After sperm counts drop to sufficient levels,
the men will use the gel exclusively for a year. Fingers crossed they don’t accidentally
have children to whom they’ll one day have to explain they were the result of a science
experiment gone wrong. Once a year has passed they’ll stop using
the gel and researchers will track them for six months to make sure there are no long
term side effects. The trial should wrap up by 2022, and if all
goes well it will be ready… for more testing. More studies involving thousands of men will
be necessary before regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration give it the all
clear, so it’s not hitting shelves anytime soon. Another birth control option for men is a
good thing, choice always is unless you’re Chidi from The Good Place. But what does this mean for women? All the birth control options I mentioned
for them are much more invasive than a rub on gel, and each has their own drawbacks,
like side effects from changes in hormone levels, scarring from implants, or pain when
an IUD falls out of place. If this trial goes well could they have a
gel too? As it happens the same company developing
this gel is working on a progestin and estradiol gel for women. So a more convenient birth control could be
on the horizon for women too. Or this gel could eliminate the need for female
birth control all together. Maybe if the man in the relationship uses
this gel for birth control, then his partner can stop taking birth control all together
if she so chooses. Whatever happens, just stay safe out there. Would y’all use this? I know I would… if there was a need. I have a condom at home in a glass case that
says “break glass in case of miracle.” For more sexy science, check out this playlist,
and I’ll see you next time on Seeker.

Kelly Dunham of GE Aviation Takes the World to Work

Hi, I’m Kelley Dunham. Lead test engineer here at GE Aviation’s test operations in Peebles, Ohio. Welcome to day three: stand testing. Today, I’m going to show you how we assemble the final pieces of our GE9X engine, And then take it through a series of tests. So for that, let’s go check out our first stop: The Ed Spears Complex. So yesterday, you got to see development assembly of the GE9X in Evandale. And they send the propulsor here and we put on the final touches. So we install the fan case and the fan
blades. So now, it’s time to install the fan blades. So this is one of the 9X’s we’re prepping for tests. As you can see here on the side, This is all the instrumentation we’re putting on the fan case. Oh and look, it’s Phil. Hey Phil, how’s it going? It’s going good today! My name is Phil Ferguson, I’ve been here 15 years. Down here in the Fred building, we install the instrumentation, Anything to measure vibration temperature just to name a few, To ensure we have the best engine in the
world. Awesome! Thank you, have a great day. Behind me is the fully assembled GE9x. It has a total of 16 composite fan blades. Out here in Peebles, our facility is pretty big. In fact, it’s just over 7,000 acres. That means we can’t exactly just push the engine to the next stop. For that, we gotta hitch a ride. Before an engine is certified for flight, We have to take it through a series of rigorous testing. And when I say rigorous, I mean rigorous. Crosswind testing, hailstorm testing, hailstone testing, ETOPS, Performance testing, endurance testing,
block test, dynamics testing. Let’s head inside now to check out the control room where the testings actually done. I’m gonna introduce you to Nick, Who’s gonna tell us a little bit more about how we monitor tests while they’re running. Nick! Hi, I’m Nick– Test level owner here at site six. So today what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna run this vibe endurance check here, Make sure everything looks good in this engine I think we’re ready to go if you are. Alright, let’s do this! Let’s do it. Alright let’s do this. Vibe check Kelly? Vibes are good! Here we go, time is 14:18. Begin accel in three, two, one Vibe tests will be running for awhile, So let’s go check out some other engines that are running. This engine behind me is running power calibrations. That big dome you see over there is what we call the TCS dome or the turbulence control structure. Behind me are the two production test cells. So once the GE9X is the certified engine, All the engines will run through here for production testing. The great thing about the indoor test cells is that we can run no matter what the weather is. Rain, sleet, or snow, we can still run the engine. Thanks for following along today! I hope you enjoyed the inside look at how we test our GE9X engines Here at the Peebles test operations in Peebles, Ohio. Check back in tomorrow for on-wing
testing with our chief test pilot. See ya!

How Does Activated Charcoal Work?

[♩Intro♩] From the way it’s marketed, you’d think
activated charcoal was some kind of miracle powder. It’s best known as a treatment for poisoning, like if a kid accidentally swallowed some cleaning supplies, or for filtering water. But activated charcoal has made its way into all kinds of stuff, like teeth whitening products, cosmetics, and that black ice cream from your Instagram feed last summer. Now, I hate to break it to you, but it’s
probably not the magical health supplement that some people claim it is. Charcoal is a black residue that forms after you burn something with lots of carbon in it, like coal or coconut shells. To make activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, you treat charcoal with heat and oxygen, or with certain acids and bases. These chemical reactions can rearrange the carbon atoms to form lots of tiny pores. So activated charcoal has a huge surface area. In fact, just one gram of it can have from
500 to 1500 square meters of surface area. That’s as much as a globe more than four
stories tall! And that lets it trap certain molecules really well, through a process called adsorption. Now, I’m not talking about absorption, where chemicals get trapped inside something, like water soaking into a rag. Adsorption means molecules bind to the surface of another compound, like the carbon-lined pores in activated charcoal. The molecules bind because of Van der Waals forces, the weak attractive force between uncharged molecules. Basically, depending on where the electrons are, one side of a molecule might be more electrically charged than the other— even if the molecule doesn’t have an overall charge. So when a molecule passes through the tiny pores in the activated charcoal, those very weak charges make it cling to the carbon thanks to Van der Waals forces. Activated charcoal is good at collecting molecules that contain carbon, like most poisons, because they’re usually large enough and have enough electrons to have stronger Van der Waals interactions. But it can adsorb other molecules, too, like iodine. And because activated charcoal has such a large surface area, there are plenty of places for poison molecules to bond. Then, the charcoal passes harmlessly through your digestive tract instead of getting sucked into your body, so the poison can’t spread and mess things up. Which is always a plus. Plenty of studies have been done about it
binding poisons in humans or toxins in a water treatment plant, so there’s no doubt that it works for those things. But people have also claimed it can help with hangovers, whiten your teeth, reduce gas in your intestines, and purify mysterious toxins that supposedly build up in your body during normal life. And the evidence there is… less clear. Some people claim to get whiter teeth from activated charcoal toothpaste, but no one’s done research on it yet. There’s also contradictory results about
whether it can help with gas by binding to molecules that contain sulfur. And there’s no evidence that it’ll adsorb
alcohol or help with hangovers. So activated charcoal is definitely safe to
eat, and might be great for some things… but any miraculous health benefits from eating a black burger bun are probably too good to be true. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! And special thanks to Patreon patron Brianna Beecher for asking, and all of our other patrons who voted to have it answered. If you’d like to submit a question, you
can go to patreon.com/scishow. [♩Outro♩]

Aaron Perry of GE Aviation Takes the World to Work

Hey there, I’m Aaron Perry, Development Assembly Mechanic here in GE Evendale on the GE9X. Welcome to day 2. So today I’m gonna take you through the process we use to take all these parts and make a GE9X development engine. Let’s go! The parts came from all over the world. Check it out. Booster came from Belgium. Fan Hub Frame came from France. Forward Cases came from Taiwan. CDN, United States of America. TCF, Germany. LPT, Italy. See I told you they came from all over the world. Looks like this engine needs a Lower Stator Case but before we can install that we got to go see the planner who’s developing the process. So now that we have the Lower Stator Case ready for assembly, we need our process, our instructions, our plan for making sure that it gets installed correctly. That’s where my buddy, Aaron Caskey, comes into play. Sup, Aaron! He’s a GE9X planner. He’s gonna tell you a little bit more about what he does. Oh yeah, so here we are developing a template to install the Lower Stator Case on the GE9X. But it’s not set in stone yet, have to bounce it back off Aaron to make sure it makes sense to him. Once we look at it and we determine that everything looks good and that the Stator Case assembly should go as expected, I’ll come back to Aaron and say, “let’s go to the next step.” Thanks, Aaron! Thanks, Aaron. So before we put this Lower Stator Case on, we got one more stop. We need to check with our Instrumentation Process Engineer, Freddy, to make sure he’s got all his hardware installed. Hey Fred. Hey Aaron. Currently working on installing light probes as you can see it’s on the outer case of that forward case and it’s all done right now. Let’s go install this thing! Alright, we’re ready to install the Lower Stator Case. We’re gonna take the Stator Case and I’m gonna put it on the engine right there. My buddy Mike is here to help us out. Hey Mike, introduce yourself. Yes, my name is Mike Whalen, and I’m an Assembly Mechanic with General Electric and I’ve been here seven and a half years. Alright Aaron, you ready? Let’s do it! Alright it looks like we’ve got this engine just about wrapped up and we wanna check with our Assembly Engineer to make sure all the paperwork’s in line before we ship it. Hey Anne! Just making sure everything’s checked off to ship. How’s it look? Looks good. Let’s ship it! So growing up, I always like space flight, space travel, aircraft, airplanes. That curiosity has stayed with me. Still fascinated with it, I still love it. And here I am, an aviation icon, GE Aviation, working in my hometown on the biggest, best jet engine manufactured today with the newest technologies. It’s the best place to work. Hey, thanks for watching how we put these beasts together. Come back tomorrow to see how we test them at Peebles. See ya.

How Does Aspirin Work?

There are lots of ways to numb yourself to
the minor aches and pains that we humans accrue in our daily lives, but today we’re talking
about aspirin. Why aspirin? Because although aspirin as we know it has
only existed since the late 1800s, the plant that it was originally derived from, willow,
is probably the oldest known painkiller in history. Records of people using willow leaves to relieve
pain and fevers stretch back 6,000 years to ancient Assyria and Sumer. Willow was also put to use in ancient Egypt,
Babylon, and China – and Hippocrates thought it was pretty rad, especially for pain during
childbirth. In the 17 and 1800s, scientists worked on
identifying, extracting, and purifying the active ingredient in willow, which turned
out to be a chemical they called salicin. Which, they further discovered, your digestive
system changes into salicylic acid. Which is what reacts with stuff in your body
to relieve pain, reduce fever and swelling, and etcetera. More on how all that works in a second. First: salicylic acid. German chemists figured out how to synthesize
it on an industrial scale in the 1870s, effectively ending millennia of willow powder use. But it had its drawbacks – lots of patients
couldn’t stomach it. Literally. It was really hard on the stomach lining. The son of one such patient, a chemist with
Friedrich Bayer & Co. by the name of Felix Hoffmann, thought it might be less irritating
if it was less acidic. So Hoffmann converted it to what Bayer & Co.
dubbed Aspirin in 1899. Aspirin has become the popular (and less-ridiculous-to-pronounce)
name for Hoffmann’s chemical compound: acetylsalicylic acid, or salicylate. It works, as humanity finally figured out
in the 1970s, by preventing your cells from using cyclooxygenase-2 to create prostaglandins. And don’t worry, I’m about to unpack that. Let’s start with the idea that lots of pain
is useful, evolutionarily speaking. When you feel pain due to an injury, like
a burn or a twisted ankle, it prompts you to take your hand away from the hot thing
right quick, or to keep your weight off the ankle until it heals. Useful. Pain from an injury to anything-but-the-nervous-system
is called nociceptive pain — after specialized sensory neurons located throughout your body
called nociceptors. They alert your brain to damage with the help
of the damaged tissue itself. Cells in the hurt area start producing enzymes
that work together to create a few signal chemicals, including those prostaglandins
I mentioned a minute ago. Prostaglandins tell your nociceptors: “No,
hey, seriously, there’s a problem here.” They make your nociceptors increase the signal
to your brain. You feel the pain more acutely. Prostaglandins are also one of the chemicals
that cause inflammation in the tissue around a wound. They make your blood vessels expand, flooding
the damaged tissue with all the immune-system stuff your body sends to protect the wound
from infection and to help it heal. All of this is great right up until it isn’t. After a certain point, you don’t need continual,
acute pain as a reminder that you’re injured. And some nociceptive pain and swelling is
warning us about stimuli that we can’t easily avoid: like headaches, arthritis, or period
cramps. Here’s where aspirin swoops in to save the
day. When you take aspirin, it’s absorbed by
your digestive tract into your bloodstream, which takes it throughout your body – including
places where cells are excreting the enzymes necessary to produce prostaglandins. Molecules of aspirin lock up with one of those
enzymes: cyclooxygenase-2. Once a molecule of cyclooxygenase-2 is locked
into a molecule of aspirin, it can’t help create prostaglandins. Which means fewer prostaglandins, which means
that the pain signals to your brain don’t increase as much and the tissue in the area
doesn’t swell as much. Thanks, aspirin! And thousands of years of science! What other medicines are you curious about? Let me know in the comments, and maybe my
next headache will be trying to figure that medicine out. Give us a like – and subscribe – if you
learned something here. And for lots more about sources of and remedies
for pain, visit our home planet: HowStuffWorks.com.

How Do Hand Sanitizers Work?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the ubiquitous
little squeeze-bottle heroes of airports and hospitals, our allies against the flu and
supposedly effective against all the things that ail ya. But what’s in there? And is it true that they kill 99.99% of germs,
as popular brands claim? Most popular hand sanitizers are alcohol-based. The active ingredient is around 70% alcohol,
depending on the formulation. The alcohol can be either ethanol, which is
the same stuff that’s in your booze of choice; isopropanol, the stuff in rubbing alcohol;
or n-propanol, rubbing alcohol’s chemical sibling. They all pretty much work the same way, which
is by dissolving the outer coats of bacteria and viruses and basically exploding them. Alcohol is polar, with water-loving hydroxyl
groups. And it loves to disrupt the protein and lipid
molecules that make up both bacterial membranes and viral envelopes. When those all-important outer coats fall
apart, these disease-causing culprits literally spill their guts all over the place, leaving
them in no position to make anyone sick. But what about people who never touch hand
sanitizer because it will breed unkillable super-germs that will kill us all? That’s a valid concern with antibiotics,
which are chemicals that target some specific point in a bacterium’s life cycle. The antibiotics in antimicrobial hand soap
can lead to the emergence of bacterial strains that are resistant and harder to kill. But resistance isn’t really a problem with
alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Bacteria can’t develop resistance to having
their proteins and membranes blasted. So these alcohol-based hand rubs aren’t
going to stop working. Make sure they are alcohol-based, though — some
contain antibiotics instead of alcohol, and those do carry the risk of resistance. But alcohol and water alone do not make goo. It’s alcohol that does the germ-murdering,
but there’s other stuff in there too.The biggest one is glycerol. Glycerol is chemically an alcohol, but unlike
its cousins, it’s in there not to kill germs but to give the hand sanitizer its gooey consistency
that makes it more portable and easier to use. Otherwise it’d be like pouring vodka on
your hands. Don’t pour vodka on your hands, guys. Alcohol, water, and glycerol are all you really
need to make a DIY hand sanitizer. Throw in some hydrogen peroxide to inactivate
bacterial spores, and you’ve got a recipe that gets the U.N.’s seal of approval. But while alcohol is all you need to kill
germs, it’s not all that goes in there. Ethanol and isopropanol can dry your skin. Glycerol helps counteract that effect, but
so do a host of other additives manufacturers might put in. This often includes tocopherol [to-cough-fer-all]
acetate, a molecule very similar to vitamin E that also happens to be great for your skin,
– and familiar stuff like aloe. A host of colors and fragrances might also
go in there. None of those are necessary for the hand sanitizer
to work, but they might make your hands smell nice. Ahhh! Toasted Marshmallow! Ethanol-based hand sanitizer might also contain
bitter or bad-tasting compounds to stop the small percentage of desperate people out there
who are willing to drink it because, well, it’s alcohol. So do these chemical goo recipes really kill
99.99% of germs? Those numbers are usually the results of lab
testing. But real life is messier. And the effectiveness of hand sanitizer varies
based on how oily or dirty your hands are, how much alcohol is in there, and which germs
you’re actually talking about. Under ideal conditions, some disease-causing
germs really do get zapped at that rate, but others don’t. OH and one more thing. Hand sanitizers work best in combination with
hand washing, because they don’t physically remove dirt and gunk from your hands. So don’t forget that soap and water. Are you always packing hand sanitizer, or
an alcohol goo-phobe? Sound off in the comments, and tell us what
other everyday chemistry we should cover! Be sure to subscribe on your way out, and
we’ll see you next time.