Tech Tuesday: Firebird


Gainesville, Fla. (WCJB) – A researcher at an Alachua-based technology company is focused on learning about one of our planet’s neighbors.

This week on Tech Tuesday, our partners at Uff Innovate and Scud Media tell us what scientists hope to learn from the Venus cloud.

Happy Tech Tuesday. I’m Melanie Moron 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 specializing in molecular diagnostics. We are developing tools on how to identify different pathogens. We will soon help during the coronavirus pandemic.

So what does your research focus on?

I am focusing on studying organic chemistry in the clouds of Venus. The clouds of Venus are made of concentrated sulfuric acid. They are suspended in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide, a little carbon monoxide, and with UV radiation, we believe that under these conditions, they can produce complex organic chemistry that may answer some of the deepest mysteries we’ve ever asked about Venus. We’ve got the color of Venus, and we can see that the clouds of Venus are slightly yellow.

So why are you interested in exploring Venus?

Venus is a special place. The clouds of Venus are formed from concentrated drops of sulfuric acid, which are constantly falling down, blowing up and reforming the cloud. And we believe that these conditions are ideal for forming complex organic chemistry that can support metabolism.

And tell us a little more about the equipment we have here.

This is an NMR machine. We are using it to identify the molecules we produce 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 I’ll see you next week.

Related: Tech Tuesday: Applied Molecular Evolution

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