Science X Newsletter Week 32

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 32:

Black hole fails to do its job

Astronomers have discovered what can happen when a giant black hole does not intervene in the life of a galaxy cluster. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes they have shown that passive black hole behavior may explain a remarkable torrent of star formation occurring in a distant cluster of galaxies.

Scientists build ultra-high-speed terahertz wireless chip

To enable data transmission speeds that surpass the 5th Generation (5G) standards for telecommunications, scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Osaka University in Japan have built a new chip using a concept called photonic topological insulators.

DNA from an ancient, unidentified ancestor was passed down to humans living today

A new analysis of ancient genomes suggests that different branches of the human family tree interbred multiple times, and that some humans carry DNA from an archaic, unknown ancestor. Melissa Hubisz and Amy Williams of Cornell University and Adam Siepel of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory report these findings in a study published 6th August in PLOS Genetics.

Researchers discover new electrocatalyst for turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

Catalysts speed up chemical reactions and form the backbone of many industrial processes.  For example, they are essential in transforming heavy oil into gasoline or jet fuel. Today, catalysts are involved in over 80 percent of all manufactured products.

Exposure to common cold coronaviruses can teach the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2

Your immune system's 'memory' T cells keep track of the viruses they have seen before. This immune cell memory gives the cells a headstart in recognizing and fighting off repeat invaders.

Iceland's most active volcano is likely headed for another eruption

Glacial volcanoes sound like an oxymoron. But Iceland's Vatnajökull ice cap, Europe's largest by volume, covers many active volcanoes, including the country's most frequently erupting one, Grímsvötn. Nine years after its last eruption in 2011, which closed Icelandic airspace, Grímsvötn appears poised for yet another, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office's (IMO).

Fossil mystery solved: Super-long-necked reptiles lived in the ocean, not on land

A fossil called Tanystropheus was first described in 1852, and it's been puzzling scientists ever since. At one point, paleontologists thought it was a flying pterosaur, like a pterodactyl, and that its long, hollow bones were phalanges in the finger that supported the wing. Later on, they figured out that those were elongated neck bones, and that it was a twenty-foot-long reptile with a ten-foot neck: three times as long as its torso. Scientists still weren't sure if it lived on land or in the water, and they didn't know if smaller specimens were juveniles or a completely different species—until now. By CT-scanning the fossils' crushed skulls and digitally reassembling them, researchers found evidence that the animals were water-dwelling, and by examining the growth rings in bones, determined that the big and little Tanystropheus were separate species that could live alongside each other without competing because they hunted different prey.

Boosting immune system a potential treatment strategy for COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives around the world, much research has focused on the immune system's role in patients who become seriously ill. A popular theory has it that the immune system gets so revved up fighting the virus that, after several days, it produces a so-called cytokine storm that results in potentially fatal organ damage, particularly to the lungs.

Why do humans prefer to mate in private?

Yitzchak Ben Mocha, an anthropologist with Zürich University, has conducted a study of human procreation habits as part of an effort to understand why humans prefer to mate in private. In his paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he describes his analysis of other studies that involved human sexual practices, among other things.

Scientists propose a novel method for controlling fusion reactions

Scientists have found a novel way to prevent pesky magnetic bubbles in plasma from interfering with fusion reactions—delivering a potential way to improve the performance of fusion energy devices. And it comes from managing radio frequency (RF) waves to stabilize the magnetic bubbles, which can expand and create disruptions that can limit the performance of ITER, the international facility under construction in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power.

New class of laser beam doesn't follow normal laws of refraction

University of Central Florida researchers have developed a new type of laser beam that doesn't follow long-held principles about how light refracts and travels.

Malignant cancer diagnosed in a dinosaur for the first time

A collaboration led by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and McMaster University has led to the discovery and diagnosis of an aggressive malignant bone cancer—an osteosarcoma—for the first time ever in a dinosaur. No malignant cancers (tumours that can spread throughout the body and have severe health implications) have ever been documented in dinosaurs previously. The paper was published August 3rd in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet Oncology.

Your hair knows what you eat and how much your haircut costs

Millimeter by millimeter, your hair is building a record of your diet. As hair strands are built from amino acids that come from your food, they preserve the chemical traces of the protein in that food. It's a strong enough record to show whether you prefer veggie burgers or double bacon cheeseburgers.

Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers: study

A large number of the valley networks scarring Mars's surface were carved by water melting beneath glacial ice, not by free-flowing rivers as previously thought, according to new UBC research published today in Nature Geoscience. The findings effectively throw cold water on the dominant "warm and wet ancient Mars" hypothesis, which postulates that rivers, rainfall and oceans once existed on the red planet.

Chemists create the brightest-ever fluorescent materials

By formulating positively charged fluorescent dyes into a new class of materials called small-molecule ionic isolation lattices (SMILES), a compound's brilliant glow can be seamlessly transferred to a solid, crystalline state, researchers report August 6 in the journal Chem. The advance overcomes a long-standing barrier to developing fluorescent solids, resulting in the brightest known materials in existence.

Windows 10 turns thumbs down on CCleaner

For 16 years, CCleaner has been a popular computer system cleaning and optimization tool, known for efficiently removing unwanted files, programs and accumulated digital fragments from users' hard drives.

Machine learning finds a surprising early galaxy

New results achieved by combining big data captured by the Subaru Telescope and the power of machine learning have discovered a galaxy with an extremely low 1.6% oxygen abundance, breaking the previous record of the lowest abundance. The measured oxygen abundance suggests that most of the stars in this galaxy formed very recently.

Neanderthal DNA contributes to genetic diversity, bringing more understanding to human evolution

The advent of DNA sequencing has given scientists a clearer insight into the interconnectedness of evolution and the web-like path that different organisms take, splitting apart and coming back together. Tony Capra, associate professor of biological sciences, has come to new conclusions about the influence of Neanderthal DNA on some genetic traits of modern humans.

Scientists develop principles for the creation of an 'acoustic diode'

In research published in Science Advances, a group led by scientists from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS) have used the principle of magneto-rotation coupling to suppress the transmission of sound waves on the surface of a film in one direction while allowing them to travel in the other. This could lead to the development of acoustic rectifiers—devices that allow waves to propagate preferentially in one direction, with potential applications in communications technology.

Astronauts: SpaceX Dragon capsule 'came alive' on descent

The astronauts on SpaceX's first crew flight said Tuesday that their Dragon capsule "came alive" and sounded like a beast as it descended through the atmosphere to a smooth splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.


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