Science X Newsletter Week 15

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 15:

Vitamin D could help fight off COVID-19

Researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin have released a crucial report today in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black hole bends light back on itself

You may have heard that nothing escapes the gravitational grasp of a black hole, not even light. This is true in the immediate vicinity of a black hole, but a bit farther out—in disks of material that swirl around some black holes—light can escape. In fact, this is the reason actively growing black holes shine with brilliant X-rays.

Hydroxychloroquine is not effective for treating coronavirus, according to small trial

On Saturday the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of two antimalarial drugs, hydroxychloroquine and a related medication, chloroquine, for emergency use to treat COVID-19. The drugs were touted by President Trump as a "game changer" for COVID-19.

COVID-19: On average, only 6% of actual infections detected worldwide

The number of confirmed cases for the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 officially issued by countries and widely reported by national and international media outlets dramatically understates the true number of infections, according to a recent report from the University of Göttingen. Dr. Christian Bommer and Professor Sebastian Vollmer from Göttingen University have used estimates of COVID-19 mortality and time until death from a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases to test the quality of official case records. Their data shows that countries have only discovered on average about 6% of coronavirus infections and the true number of infected people worldwide may already have reached several tens of millions. Their study is available online.

Origins of Uranus' oddities explained by Japanese astronomers

The ice giant Uranus' unusual attributes have long puzzled scientists. All of the planets in the solar system revolve around the sun in the same direction and in the same plane, which astronomers believe is a vestige of how our solar system formed from a spinning disc of gas and dust. Most of the planets also rotate in the same direction, with their poles orientated perpendicular to the plane in which the planets revolve. However, uniquely among all the planets, Uranus is tilted at about 98 degrees.

Scientists use the Tokyo Skytree to test Einstein's theory of general relativity

In another verification of the validity of Einstein's theory of general relativity, published in Nature Photonics, scientists from the RIKEN Center for Advanced Photonics and Cluster for Pioneering Research, with colleagues, have used two finely tuned optical lattice clocks, one at the base and one on the 450-meter observatory floor of Tokyo Skytree, to make new ultraprecise measurements of the time dilation effect predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity.

First sighting of mysterious Majorana fermion on a common metal

Physicists at MIT and elsewhere have observed evidence of Majorana fermions—particles that are theorized to also be their own antiparticle—on the surface of a common metal: gold. This is the first sighting of Majorana fermions on a platform that can potentially be scaled up. The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are a major step toward isolating the particles as stable, error-proof qubits for quantum computing.

Rethinking cosmology: Universe expansion may not be uniform (Update)

Astronomers have assumed for decades that the Universe is expanding at the same rate in all directions. A new study based on data from ESA's XMM-Newton, NASA's Chandra and the German-led ROSAT X-ray observatories suggests this key premise of cosmology might be wrong.

Mars helicopter attached to NASA's Perseverance rover

With the launch period of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opening in 14 weeks, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the past week, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed important milestones, fueling the descent stage—also known as the sky crane—and attaching the Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft in history to attempt power-controlled flight on another planet.

Researchers uncover importance of aligning biological clock with day-night cycles

Timing is everything. A fresh example supporting the old saying has been found in connection with the systems regulated by biological clocks.

New images reveal fine threads of million-degree plasma woven throughout the Sun's atmosphere

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) unveil highest-ever resolution images of the Sun from NASA's solar sounding rocket mission

Revolutionary new method for dating pottery sheds new light on prehistoric past

A team at the University of Bristol has developed a new method of dating pottery which is allowing archaeologists to date prehistoric finds from across the world with remarkable accuracy.

Scientists' warning to humanity on insect extinctions

Some of the tiniest creatures on the planet are vital for the environment. But there is a worldwide fall in insect numbers after an accelerating rate of extinction.

Cold War nuclear bomb tests reveal true age of whale sharks

Atomic bomb tests conducted during the Cold War have helped scientists for the first time correctly determine the age of whale sharks.

First-ever photo proof of powerful jet emerging from colliding galaxies

A team of Clemson University College of Science researchers, in collaboration with international colleagues, has reported the first definitive detection of a relativistic jet emerging from two colliding galaxies—in essence, the first photographic proof that merging galaxies can produce jets of charged particles that travel at nearly the speed of light.

A new antiviral drug heading into clinical trials offers hope for COVID-19 treatment

Scientists are hopeful that a new drug—called EIDD-2801—could change the way doctors treat COVID-19. The drug shows promise in reducing lung damage, has finished testing in mice and will soon move to human clinical trials.

What makes Saturn's atmosphere so hot

The upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants—Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune—are hot, just like Earth's. But unlike Earth, the Sun is too far from these outer planets to account for the high temperatures. Their heat source has been one of the great mysteries of planetary science.

Researchers develop one-way street for electrons

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made a one-way street for electrons that may unlock the ability for devices to process ultra-high-speed wireless data and simultaneously harvest energy for power. The researchers did this by shaping silicon on a microscopic scale to create a funnel, or "ratchet," for electrons.

Rates of pulmonary complications drastically reduced with newer drug

The tragic COVID-19 pandemic is creating new awareness regarding the importance of breathing problems, pneumonia and ventilators. What many people don't realize is that without anesthesia and operating room ventilators, the millions of surgeries normally performed each year in the U.S. would be impossible.

Coronavirus patients can benefit from blood of the recovered, new study shows

For 10 patients severely ill with the new coronavirus, a single dose of antibodies drawn from the blood of people who had recovered from COVID-19 appeared to save lives, shorten the duration of symptoms, improve oxygen levels and speed up viral clearance, newly published research reports.


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