Science X Newsletter Week 14

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 14:

Due to an increasing volume of information and news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have split stories concerning the virus into a separate category in the MedicalXpress daily newsletter. As always, you may configure your email newsletter preferences in your ScienceX account.

An experimental peptide could block COVID-19

In hopes of developing a possible treatment for COVID-19, a team of MIT chemists has designed a drug candidate that they believe may block coronaviruses' ability to enter human cells. The potential drug is a short protein fragment, or peptide, that mimics a protein found on the surface of human cells.

COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows promise in first peer-reviewed research

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists today announced a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. When tested in mice, the vaccine, delivered through a fingertip-sized patch, produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus.

'Tequila' powered biofuels more efficient than corn or sugar

The agave plant used to make tequila could be established in semi-arid Australia as an environmentally friendly solution to Australia's transport fuel shortage, a team of researchers at the University of Sydney, University of Exeter and University of Adelaide has found.

Coronavirus may spread through normal breathing: US scientists

The new coronavirus might spread through the air via normal breathing and speaking, a top US scientist said Friday as the government was poised to recommend the use of face masks for everyone.

2 meters enough for social distancing? MIT researcher says droplets carrying coronavirus can travel up to 8 meters

The novel coronavirus has prompted social distancing measures around the world. One researcher believes what's being done isn't enough.

Oldest-ever human genetic evidence clarifies dispute over our ancestors

Genetic information from an 800,000-year-old human fossil has been retrieved for the first time. The results from the University of Copenhagen shed light on one of the branching points in the human family tree, reaching much further back in time than previously possible.

Energy-harvesting design aims to turn Wi-Fi signals into usable power

Any device that sends out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves —electromagnetic waves with a frequency somewhere between microwaves and infrared light. These high-frequency radiation waves, known as "T-rays," are also produced by almost anything that registers a temperature, including our own bodies and the inanimate objects around us.

Hubble finds best evidence for elusive mid-sized black hole

Astronomers have found the best evidence for the perpetrator of a cosmic homicide: a black hole of an elusive class known as "intermediate-mass," which betrayed its existence by tearing apart a wayward star that passed too close.

Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world

Researchers have found evidence of rainforests near the South Pole 90 million years ago, suggesting the climate was exceptionally warm at the time.

Tiny optical cavity could make quantum networks possible

Engineers at Caltech have shown that atoms in optical cavities—tiny boxes for light—could be foundational to the creation of a quantum internet. Their work was published on March 30 by the journal Nature.

Physical force alone spurs gene expression, study reveals

Cells will ramp up gene expression in response to physical forces alone, a new study finds. Gene activation, the first step of protein production, starts less than one millisecond after a cell is stretched—hundreds of times faster than chemical signals can travel, the researchers report.

Trial drug can significantly block early stages of COVID-19 in engineered human tissues

An international team led by University of British Columbia researcher Dr. Josef Penninger has found a trial drug that effectively blocks the cellular door SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect its hosts.

New study identifies characteristics of patients with fatal COVID-19

In a new study, researchers identified the most common characteristics of 85 COVID-19 patients who died in Wuhan, China in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The study reports on commonalities of the largest group of coronavirus patient deaths to be studied to date. The paper was published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Does relativity lie at the source of quantum exoticism?

Since its beginnings, quantum mechanics hasn't ceased to amaze us with its peculiarity, so difficult to understand. Why does one particle seem to pass through two slits simultaneously? Why, instead of specific predictions, can we only talk about evolution of probabilities? According to theorists from universities in Warsaw and Oxford, the most important features of the quantum world may result from the special theory of relativity, which until now seemed to have little to do with quantum mechanics.

High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory tests speed of light

New measurements confirm, to the highest energies yet explored, that the laws of physics hold no matter where you are or how fast you're moving. Observations of record-breaking gamma rays prove the robustness of Lorentz Invariance—a piece of Einstein's theory of relativity that predicts the speed of light is constant everywhere in the universe. The High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory in Puebla, Mexico detected the gamma rays coming from distant galactic sources.

COVID-19 patients often infected with other respiratory viruses, preliminary study reports

About one in five people with COVID-19 are also infected with other respiratory viruses, according to a preliminary analysis led by Ian Brown, MD, a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Tree rings could pin down Thera volcano eruption date

Charlotte Pearson's eyes scanned a palm-sized chunk of ancient tree. They settled on a ring that looked "unusually light," and she made a note without giving it a second thought. Three years later, and armed with new methodology and technology, she discovered that the light ring might mark the year that the Thera volcano on the Greek island of Santorini erupted over the ancient Minoan civilization. The date of the eruption, which is one of the largest humanity has ever witnessed, has been debated for decades.

Human testing for Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine this fall

Johnson & Johnson said on Monday it had selected a lead candidate vaccine for the new coronavirus that would move to human trials by September and could be ready for emergency use by early next year.

Electron-eating neon causes star to collapse

An international team of researchers has found that neon inside a certain massive star can consume the electrons in the core, a process called electron capture, which causes the star to collapse into a neutron star and produce a supernova.

New laser technique will allow more powerful—and smaller—particle accelerators

By observing electrons that have been accelerated to extremely high energies, scientists are able to unlock clues about the particles that make up our universe.


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