Science X Newsletter Week 16

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 16:

Very Large Telescope sees star dance around supermassive black hole, proves Einstein right

Observations made with ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have revealed for the first time that a star orbiting the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way moves just as predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity. Its orbit is shaped like a rosette and not like an ellipse as predicted by Newton's theory of gravity. This long-sought-after result was made possible by increasingly precise measurements over nearly 30 years, which have enabled scientists to unlock the mysteries of the behemoth lurking at the heart of our galaxy.

Scientists discover six new coronaviruses in bats (Update)

Researchers with the Smithsonian's Global Health Program have discovered six new coronaviruses in bats in Myanmar—the first time these viruses have been detected anywhere in the world. Future studies will evaluate the potential for transmission across species to better understand the risks to human health. According to the authors, the newly discovered coronaviruses are not closely related to coronaviruses Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS CoV-1), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or SARS-CoV-2.

Genetic tracing 'barcode' is rapidly revealing COVID-19's journey and evolution

Drexel University researchers have reported a method to quickly identify and label mutated versions of the virus that causes COVID-19. Their preliminary analysis, using information from a global database of genetic information gleaned from coronavirus testing, suggests that there are at least six to 10 slightly different versions of the virus infecting people in America, some of which are either the same as, or have subsequently evolved from, strains directly from Asia, while others are the same as those found in Europe.

Heavy iron isotopes leaking from Earth's core

Earth's molten core may be leaking iron, according to researchers who analyzed how iron behaves inside our planet.

Study points to evidence of stray dogs as possible origin of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

Ever since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2, scientists have been scrambling to identify the species of origin to understand how the new coronavirus first leapt from its animal hosts to humans, causing the current pandemic infecting more than a million people worldwide.

Earth-size, habitable-zone planet found hidden in early NASA Kepler data

A team of transatlantic scientists, using reanalyzed data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, has discovered an Earth-size exoplanet orbiting in its star's habitable zone, the area around a star where a rocky planet could support liquid water.

The Wolfram Physics Project hopes to find fundamental theory of physics

Physicist and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram has unveiled "The Wolfram Physics Project," which he subtitles "A Project to Find the Fundamental Theory of Physics." The aim of the project is to enlist the assistance of people around the globe to find the fundamental theory of physics—the theory that ties together all of physics, from the general theory of relativity to quantum mechanics. Wolfram has also published several documents on his website that outline the history behind the development of the project. Early in his career, he was a distinguished physicist, but later, left to found a computer company. More recently, he has found a renewed interest in pursuing his ideas about fundamental physics that he believes will lead to the discovery of a fundamental theory.

Proteins may halt the severe cytokine storms seen in COVID-19 patients

One of the defining features of Covid-19 is the excessive immune response that can occur in severe cases. This burst of immune overreaction, also called a cytokine storm, damages the lungs and can be fatal.

Spider venom key to pain relief without side-effects

Molecules in tarantula venom could be used as an alternative to opioid pain killers for people seeking chronic pain relief.

Flamingos form firm friendships

Flamingos form friendships that last for years, new research shows.

High glucose levels may explain why some flu patients have more severe symptoms

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in China and one in Germany has found evidence that suggests high glucose levels may explain why some flu patients have worse symptoms than others. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their work with mouse models and flu patients and what they learned from it.

Loss of smell and taste validated as COVID-19 symptoms in patients with high recovery rate

Loss of smell and taste has been anecdotally linked to COVID-19 infections. In a study published April 12, 2020 in the journal International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, researchers at UC San Diego Health report the first empirical findings that strongly associate sensory loss with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Virology lab finds drug originally meant for Ebola is effective against a key enzyme of coronavirus that causes COVID-19

Scientists at the University of Alberta have shown that the drug remdesivir is highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to new research published today in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Team designs carbon nanostructure stronger than diamonds

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have architecturally designed plate-nanolattices—nanometer-sized carbon structures—that are stronger than diamonds as a ratio of strength to density.

Alarms ring as Greenland ice loss causes 40% of 2019 sea level rise

The kilometres-thick icesheet that covers Greenland saw a near-record imbalance last year between new snowfall and the discharge of meltwater and ice into the ocean, scientists have reported.

New mask material can remove virus-size nanoparticles

Scientists around the world are scrambling to adapt their research to find solutions to the many problems raised by the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, not the least being a face mask shortage.

Study finds that frequent cannabis users are way too high… in their estimates of cannabinoids

One would think that cannabis enthusiasts attending a marijuana advocacy event would be knowledgeable about cannabinoids.

'A bad time to be alive': Study links ocean deoxygenation to ancient die-off

In a new study, Stanford researchers have strongly bolstered the theory that a lack of oxygen in Earth's oceans contributed to a devastating die-off approximately 444 million years ago. The new results further indicate that these anoxic (little- to no-oxygen) conditions lasted over 3 million years—significantly longer than similar biodiversity-crushing spells in our planet's history.

Olive oil leads to discovery of new universal law of phase transitions

A simple drop of olive oil in a system of photons bouncing between two mirrors has revealed universal aspects of phase transitions in physics. Researchers at AMOLF used an oil-filled optical cavity in which light undergoes phase transitions similar to those in boiling water. The system they studied has memory because the oil causes photons to interact with themselves. By varying the distance between the two mirrors and measuring the transmission of light through the cavity, they discovered a universal law describing phase transitions in systems with memory. These results are published on April 15th in Physical Review Letters.

Hot qubits break one of the biggest constraints to practical quantum computers

Most quantum computers being developed around the world will only work at fractions of a degree above absolute zero. That requires multi-million-dollar refrigeration and as soon as you plug them into conventional electronic circuits they'll instantly overheat.


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