Tech Tuesday: Firebird

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A researcher at an Alachua-based tech company is focused on learning about one of our planet’s neighbors.

In this week’s Tech Tuesday, our partners at u-f innovate and scad media tell us what the scientist hopes to learn from the clouds of venus.

Happy Tech Tuesday. I’m Melanie moron here with UF Innovate Accelerate. And today, I’m here in the lab with Dr. Jan Spacek from Firebird. Jan, thank you so much for joining us today.

Thank you for coming.

So what is Firebird?

Firebird is a company that specializes in molecule diagnostics. We are making tools how to detect different pathogens. Most recently we help during the coronavirus epidemic.

So what is your research focused on?

I’m focusing on researching organic chemistry in the clouds of Venus. Clouds of Venus are made out of concentrated sulfuric acid. They are suspended in carbon dioxide, a little bit carbon monoxide atmosphere, and we believe that under UV radiation, under these conditions, you can produce complex organic chemistry, which might answer some of the deepest mysteries we’ve been wondering about Venus since ever we discovered Venus coloration, and we could observe that Venus clouds are slightly yellow.

So why are you so interested in researching Venus?

Venus is a unique environment. The clouds of Venus are formed from concentrated sulfuric acid droplets, which are constantly falling down, being evaporated, and are reforming the cloud. And we believe that these conditions are suitable to form complex organic chemistry that might support metabolism, potentially some kind of very exotic life forms.

And tell us a little bit more about the tool we have back here.

This is an NMR machine. We are using it to identify molecules that we are producing in our experiments to understand what exactly is happening under these conditions.

Thank you so much for watching this week’s episode. I’m Melanie Moron, and we’ll see you next week.

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