Science X Newsletter Week 28

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 28:

Complications from COVID-19 may depend on von Willebrand factor in the blood

Anna Aksenova, a senior research associate at the Laboratory of Amyloid Biology at St Petersburg University, has advanced a hypothesis that the severe course of COVID-19 may be associated with the von Willebrand factor, one of the main components of the blood coagulation system. As the researcher suggests, the replication of the virus stimulates the development of microdamage on vessel walls. In its response to this, the body releases von Willebrand factor into the blood, trying to 'patch' possible holes. As a result, the risk of thromboses increases. It is with this clotting that a significant part of the deaths from COVID-19 are associated.

A 'regime shift' is happening in the Arctic Ocean, scientists say

Scientists at Stanford University have discovered a surprising shift in the Arctic Ocean. Exploding blooms of phytoplankton, the tiny algae at the base of a food web topped by whales and polar bears, have drastically altered the Arctic's ability to transform atmospheric carbon into living matter. Over the past decade, the surge has replaced sea ice loss as the biggest driver of changes in uptake of carbon dioxide by phytoplankton.

Detection of electrical signaling between tomato plants raises interesting questions

The soil beneath our feet is alive with electrical signals being sent from one plant to another, according to research in which a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering participated.

Researchers: COVID-19 spreads ten meters or more by breathing

A plea issued by 239 scientists from around the world to recognize and mitigate airborne transmission of COVID-19 addressed to international health authorities is to be published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Scientists propose plan to determine if Planet Nine is a primordial black hole

Scientists at Harvard University and the Black Hole Initiative (BHI) have developed a new method to find black holes in the outer solar system, and along with it, determine once-and-for-all the true nature of the hypothesized Planet Nine. The paper, accepted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, highlights the ability of the future Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) mission to observe accretion flares, the presence of which could prove or rule out Planet Nine as a black hole.

Polynesians, Native Americans made contact before European arrival, genetic study finds

Through deep genetic analyses, Stanford Medicine scientists and their collaborators have found conclusive scientific evidence of contact between ancient Polynesians and Native Americans from the region that is now Colombia—something that's been hotly contested in the historic and archaeological world for decades.

First direct evidence of ocean mixing across the Gulf Stream

New research provides the first direct evidence for the Gulf Stream blender effect, identifying a new mechanism of mixing water across the swift-moving current. The results have important implications for weather, climate and fisheries because ocean mixing plays a critical role in these processes. The Gulf Stream is one of the largest drivers of climate and biological productivity from Florida to Newfoundland and along the western coast of Europe.

Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show

A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.

Behind the dead-water phenomenon

What makes ships mysteriously slow down or even stop as they travel, even though their engines are working properly? This was first observed in 1893 and was described experimentally in 1904 without all the secrets of this 'dead water' being understood. An interdisciplinary team from the CNRS and the University of Poitiers has explained this phenomenon for the first time: the speed changes in ships trapped in dead water are due to waves that act like an undulating conveyor belt on which the boats move back and forth. This work was published in PNAS on July 6, 2020.

Brain benefits of exercise can be gained with a single protein

A little-studied liver protein may be responsible for the well-known benefits of exercise on the aging brain, according to a new study in mice by scientists in the UC San Francisco Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research. The findings could lead to new therapies to confer the neuroprotective effects of physical activity on people who are unable to exercise due to physical limitations.

Famous 'Jurassic Park' dinosaur is less lizard, more bird

From movies to museum exhibits, the dinosaur Dilophosaurus is no stranger to pop culture. Many probably remember it best from the movie "Jurassic Park," where it's depicted as a venom-spitting beast with a rattling frill around its neck and two paddle-like crests on its head.

People with high cholesterol should eliminate carbs, not saturated fat

For decades, people diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia have been instructed to minimize their consumption of saturated fats to lower cholesterol and reduce their risks of heart disease. But a new study published in the prestigious journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine found no evidence to support those claims.

Applying rock dust to croplands could absorb up to 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere

Adding crushed rock dust to farmland could draw down up to two billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air per year and help meet key global climate targets, according to a major new study led by the University of Sheffield.

Texas will face driest conditions of the last 1,000 years

Texas' future climate will feature drier summers and decreasing water supplies for much of the state for the remainder of the 21st century—likely resulting in the driest conditions the state has endured in the last 1,000 years, according to a team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University professor.

Dying stars breathe life into Earth: study

As dying stars take their final few breaths of life, they gently sprinkle their ashes into the cosmos through the magnificent planetary nebulae. These ashes, spread via stellar winds, are enriched with many different chemical elements, including carbon.

Shillings, gods and runes: Clues in language suggest a Semitic superpower in ancient northern Europe

Remember when Australians paid in shillings and pence? New research suggests the words for these coins and other culturally important items and concepts are the result of close contact between the early Germanic people and the Carthaginian Empire more than 2,000 years ago.

A tiny ancient relative of dinosaurs and pterosaurs discovered

Dinosaurs and flying pterosaurs may be known for their remarkable size, but a newly described species from Madagascar that lived around 237 million years ago suggests that they originated from extremely small ancestors. The fossil reptile, named Kongonaphon kely, or "tiny bug slayer," would have stood just 10 centimeters (or about 4 inches) tall. The description and analysis of this fossil and its relatives, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help explain the origins of flight in pterosaurs, the presence of "fuzz" on the skin of both pterosaurs and dinosaurs, and other questions about these charismatic animals.

Increase in delirium, rare brain inflammation and stroke linked to COVID-19

Neurological complications of Covid-19 can include delirium, brain inflammation, stroke and nerve damage, finds a new UCL and UCLH-led study.

Researchers foresee linguistic issues during space travel

It lacks the drama of a shape-shifting alien creature, but another threat looms over the prospect of generations-long, interstellar space travel: Explorers arriving on Xanadu could face problems communicating with previous and subsequent arrivals, their spoken language having changed in isolation along the way.

Albert Einstein the mediocre: Why the h-index is a bogus measure of academic impact

Earlier this year, French physician and microbiologist Didier Raoult generated a media uproar over his controversial promotion of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. The researcher has long pointed to his growing list of publications and high number of citations as an indication of his contribution to science, all summarized in his "h-index."


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