Science X Newsletter Week 46

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 46:

Quantum physics: Our study suggests objective reality doesn't exist

Alternative facts are spreading like a virus across society. Now it seems they have even infected science—at least the quantum realm. This may seem counter intuitive. The scientific method is after all founded on the reliable notions of observation, measurement and repeatability. A fact, as established by a measurement, should be objective, such that all observers can agree with it.

New fossil pushes back physical evidence of insect pollination to 99 million years ago

A new study co-led by researchers in the U.S. and China has pushed back the first-known physical evidence of insect flower pollination to 99 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period.

New material breaks world record for turning heat into electricity

A new type of material generates electrical current very efficiently from temperature differences. This allows sensors and small processors to supply themselves with energy wirelessly.

Physicists irreversibly split photons by freezing them in a Bose-Einstein condensate

Light can be directed in different directions, usually also back the same way. Physicists from the University of Bonn and the University of Cologne have, however, succeeded in creating a new one-way street for light. They cool photons down to a Bose-Einstein condensate, which causes the light to collect in optical "valleys" from which it can no longer return. The findings from basic research could also be of interest for the quantum communication of the future. The results are published in Science.

Physics experiment with ultrafast laser pulses produces a previously unseen phase of matter

Adding energy to any material, such as by heating it, almost always makes its structure less orderly. Ice, for example, with its crystalline structure, melts to become liquid water, with no order at all.

Top cosmologist's lonely battle against 'Big Bang' theory

James Peebles won this year's Nobel prize in physics for helping transform the field of cosmology into a respected science, but if there's one term he hates to hear, it's "Big Bang Theory."

Ketogenic diet helps tame flu virus

A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet like the Keto regimen has its fans, but influenza apparently isn't one of them.

NASA finds Neptune moons locked in 'dance of avoidance'

Even by the wild standards of the outer solar system, the strange orbits that carry Neptune's two innermost moons are unprecedented, according to newly published research.

The mysterious 'Tully Monster' fossil just got more mysterious

Every now and again, scientists discover fossils that are so bizarre they defy classification, their body plans unlike any other living animals or plants. Tullimonstrum (also known as the Tully Monster), a 300m-year-old fossil discovered in the Mazon Creek fossil beds in Illinois, US, is one such creature.

Vietnam deer rediscovered after nearly 30 years

A very rare species of small, deer-like animal thought to be on the verge of extinction has been spotted in the northwestern jungle of Vietnam for the first time in nearly 30 years.

NASA renames faraway ice world after Nazi-link backlash (Update)

Ultima Thule, the farthest cosmic body ever visited by a spacecraft, has been renamed Arrokoth, or "sky" in the Native American Powhatan language, following a backlash over the previous name's Nazi connotations.

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan

By using ancient protein sequencing, researchers have retrieved genetic information from a 1.9 million year old extinct, giant primate that used to live in a subtropical area in southern China. The genetic information allows the researchers to uncover the evolutionary position of Gigantopithecus blacki, a three-meter tall and possibly 600 kg primate, revealing the orangutan as its closest living relative.

DNA is only one among millions of possible genetic molecules

Biology encodes information in DNA and RNA, which are complex molecules finely tuned to their functions. But are they the only way to store hereditary molecular information? Some scientists believe life as we know it could not have existed before there were nucleic acids. Thus, understanding how they came to exist on primitive Earth is a fundamental goal of basic research.

Research reveals new state of matter: a Cooper pair metal

For years, physicists have assumed that Cooper pairs, the electron duos that enable superconductors to conduct electricity without resistance, were two-trick ponies. The pairs either glide freely, creating a superconducting state, or create an insulating state by jamming up within a material, unable to move at all.

Superconducting wind turbine chalks up first test success

A superconducting rotor has been successfully tested on an active wind turbine for the first time.

Antibody injection stops peanut allergy for 2 to 6 weeks, study shows

One injection of an antibody treatment let people with severe peanut allergies eat a nut's worth of peanut protein two weeks later, a small, Stanford-led pilot study showed.

Mysteries behind interstellar buckyballs finally answered

Scientists have long been puzzled by the existence of so-called "buckyballs"—complex carbon molecules with a soccer-ball-like structure—throughout interstellar space. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona has proposed a mechanism for their formation in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Cardiologists establish how e-cigarettes damage the brain, blood vessels and lungs

Cardiologists have issued a stark warning about the dangers of e-cigarettes, particularly for young people, as results of new research show the damage they cause to the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs.

Free Internet access should be a basic human right, study says

Free internet access must be considered as a human right, as people unable to get online—particularly in developing countries—lack meaningful ways to influence the global players shaping their everyday lives, according to a new study.

Unknown virus discovered in humans

An international team based in Austria has unearthed a previously unknown type of virus in samples of human bodily fluids. The researchers were looking for viruses that infect bacteria, known as bacteriophages, with an emphasis on those that attack the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterium found in the human gut. The team identified a total of 43 bacteriophages in samples of human bodily fluids, particularly in blood samples. The discovery of such phages in the human body is especially significant because they can pass antibiotic resistance genes on to bacteria. Consequently, information about the prevalence and frequency of phages in humans, as well as the relationships between them, is urgently needed. The findings of a team from Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences under the lead of University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, which have now been published in an international journal, will make a major contribution in this regard.


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