Science X Newsletter Week 11

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 11:

Solved: The mystery of the expansion of the universe

The Earth, solar system, the entire Milky Way and the few thousand galaxies closest to us move in a vast "bubble" that is 250 million light years in diameter, where the average density of matter is half as high as for the rest of the universe. This is the hypothesis advanced by a theoretical physicist from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) to solve a conundrum that has been splitting the scientific community for a decade: At what speed is the universe expanding? Until now, at least two independent calculation methods have arrived at two values that are different by about 10% with a deviation that is statistically irreconcilable. This new approach, which is set out in the journal Physics Letters B, erases this divergence without making use of any "new physics."

Research shows mangrove conservation can pay for itself in flood protection

The natural coastal defenses provided by mangrove forests reduce annual flooding significantly in critical hotspots around the world. Without mangroves, flood damages would increase by more than $65 billion annually, and 15 million more people would be flooded, according to a new study published March 10 in Scientific Reports.

Engineers crack 58-year-old puzzle on way to quantum breakthrough

A happy accident in the laboratory has led to a breakthrough discovery that not only solved a problem that stood for more than half a century, but has major implications for the development of quantum computers and sensors.In a study published today in Nature, a team of engineers at UNSW Sydney has done what a celebrated scientist first suggested in 1961 was possible, but has eluded everyone since: controlling the nucleus of a single atom using only electric fields.

Ancient shell shows days were half-hour shorter 70 million years ago

Earth turned faster at the end of the time of the dinosaurs than it does today, rotating 372 times a year, compared to the current 365, according to a new study of fossil mollusk shells from the late Cretaceous. This means a day lasted only 23 and a half hours, according to the new study in AGU's journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.

Very Large Telescope observes exoplanet where it rains iron

Researchers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have observed an extreme planet where they suspect it rains iron. The ultra-hot giant exoplanet has a day side where temperatures climb above 2400 degrees Celsius, high enough to vaporise metals. Strong winds carry iron vapour to the cooler night side where it condenses into iron droplets.

Permanent magnets stronger than those on refrigerator could be a solution for delivering fusion energy

Permanent magnets akin to those used on refrigerators could speed the development of fusion energy—the same energy produced by the sun and stars.

Researchers create focus-free camera with new flat lens

Using a single lens that is about one-thousandth of an inch thick, researchers have created a camera that does not require focusing. The technology offers considerable benefits over traditional cameras such as the ones in most smartphones, which require multiple lenses to form high-quality, in-focus images.

Researchers find new minor planets beyond Neptune

Using data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES), researchers have found more than 300 trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), minor planets located in the far reaches of the solar system, including more than 100 new discoveries. Published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, the study also describes a new approach for finding similar types of objects and could aid future searches for the hypothetical Planet Nine and other undiscovered planets. The work was led by graduate student Pedro Bernardinelli and professors Gary Bernstein and Masao Sako.

New carbon membrane generates a hundred times more power

Leiden chemists have created a new ultrathin membrane only one molecule thick. The membrane can produce a hundred times more power from seawater than the best membranes used today. The researchers have published their findings in Nature Nanotechnology.

Team obtains the best measurement of neutron star size to date

An international research team led by members of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) has obtained new measurements of how big neutron stars are. To do so, they combined a general first-principles description of the unknown behavior of neutron star matter with multi-messenger observations of the binary neutron star merger GW170817. Their results, which appeared in Nature Astronomy today, are more stringent by a factor of two than previous limits and show that a typical neutron star has a radius close to 11 kilometers. They also find that neutron stars merging with black holes are in most cases likely to be swallowed whole, unless the black hole is small and/or rapidly rotating. This means that while such mergers might be observable as gravitational-wave sources, they would be invisible in the electromagnetic spectrum.

New type of pulsating star discovered

A star that pulsates on just one side has been discovered in the Milky Way about 1500 light years from Earth. It is the first of its kind to be found and scientists expect to find many more similar systems as technology to listen inside the beating hearts of stars improves.

Research on soldier ants reveals that evolution can go in reverse

Turtle ant soldiers look like real-life creatures straight out of a Japanese anime film. These tree-dwelling insects scuttle to and fro sporting shiny, adorably oversized heads, which they use to block the entrances of their nests—essentially acting as living doors.

Scientists discover the mathematical rules underpinning brain growth

Life is rife with patterns. It's common for living things to create a repeating series of similar features as they grow: think of feathers that vary slightly in length on a bird's wing or shorter and longer petals on a rose.

Astronomers use slime mold model to reveal dark threads of the cosmic web

A computational approach inspired by the growth patterns of a bright yellow slime mold has enabled a team of astronomers and computer scientists at UC Santa Cruz to trace the filaments of the cosmic web that connects galaxies throughout the universe.

Crystal creates a supercontinuum breakthrough

Researchers have generated a wide range of colors from a single laser after discovering a new process for achieving so-called "supercontinuum generation."

India's Chandrayaan 2 is creating the highest-resolution map we have of the moon

India's space organization, ISRO, launched Chandrayaan 2 to the moon last year in July. While its lander Vikram crashed on the lunar surface on September 7, the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the moon.

Tests show new coronavirus lives on some surfaces for up to three days

The new coronavirus can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for as long as two to three days, tests by U.S. government and other scientists have found.

Two-dimensional metals open pathways to new science

An atomically thin materials platform developed by Penn State researchers in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Oak Ridge National Lab will open a wide range of new applications in biomolecular sensing, quantum phenomena, catalysis and nonlinear optics.

How sperm unpack dad's genome so it can merge with mom's

A sperm enters an egg, an embryo develops and eventually a baby is born. But back up a second—how does the mother's half-genome actually merge with the father's half-genome to form one new human genome? Turns out researchers don't really know that much about these relatively brief, yet crucial, incipient moments in fertilization.

Statins starve cancer cells to death

More than 35 million Americans take statin drugs daily to lower their blood cholesterol levels. Now, in experiments with human cells in the laboratory, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have added to growing evidence that the ubiquitous drug may kill cancer cells and have uncovered clues to how they do it.

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