Science X Newsletter Week 38

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 38:

Human footprints dating back 120,000 years found in Saudi Arabia

Around 120,000 years ago in what is now northern Saudi Arabia, a small band of homo sapiens stopped to drink and forage at a shallow lake that was also frequented by camels, buffalo and elephants bigger than any species seen today.

World's largest DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons reveals they weren't all Scandinavian

Invaders, pirates, warriors—the history books taught us that Vikings were brutal predators who travelled by sea from Scandinavia to pillage and raid their way across Europe and beyond.

Could breadfruit be the next superfood?

A fruit used for centuries in countries around the world is getting the nutritional thumbs-up from a team of British Columbia researchers.

Nearly 100 earthquakes swarm Yellowstone in 24 hours. Here's what experts are saying

A swarm of 91 earthquakes rattled the Yellowstone National Park region in just 24 hours on Thursday, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quakes trembled southwest of Yellowstone Lake between Heart Lake and West Thumb.

SpaceX SN8 to launch and fly to 60,000 feet next week

Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, has announced via Twitter that the company's SN8 rocket will take a test flight sometime next week. The plan is for the rocket is to soar up to 60,000 feet (18,300 meters) and then return to Earth in a controlled landing.

Hints of life on Venus: Scientists detect phosphine molecules in high cloud decks

An international team of astronomers, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, today announced the discovery of a rare molecule—phosphine—in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially, or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.

Supercooled water is a stable liquid, scientists show for the first time

Supercooled water is really two liquids in one. That's the conclusion reached by a research team at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory after making the first-ever measurements of liquid water at temperatures much colder than its typical freezing point.

Researchers discover effective pathway to convert carbon dioxide into ethylene

A research team from Caltech and the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has demonstrated a promising way to efficiently convert carbon dioxide into ethylene—an important chemical used to produce plastics, solvents, cosmetics and other important products globally.

Hubble captures crisp new portrait of Jupiter's storms

This latest image of Jupiter, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on Aug. 25, 2020, was captured when the planet was 406 million miles from Earth. Hubble's sharp view is giving researchers an updated weather report on the monster planet's turbulent atmosphere, including a remarkable new storm brewing, and a cousin of the famous Great Red Spot region gearing up to change color—again.

Discovery of a new mass extinction

It's not often a new mass extinction is identified; after all, such events were so devastating they really stand out in the fossil record. In a new paper, published today in Science Advances, an international team has identified a major extinction of life 233 million years ago that triggered the dinosaur takeover of the world. The crisis has been called the Carnian Pluvial Episode.

Mobile phone radiation may be killing insects: German study

Radiation from mobile phones could have contributed to the dramatic decline in insect populations seen in much of Europe in recent years, a German study showed Thursday.

VLBA makes first direct distance measurement to magnetar

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) have made the first direct geometric measurement of the distance to a magnetar within our Milky Way Galaxy—a measurement that could help determine if magnetars are the sources of the long-mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs).

Infinite chains of hydrogen atoms have surprising properties, including a metallic phase

An infinite chain of hydrogen atoms is just about the simplest bulk material imaginable—a never-ending single-file line of protons surrounded by electrons. Yet a new computational study combining four cutting-edge methods finds that the modest material boasts fantastic and surprising quantum properties.

Arctic transitioning to a new climate state

The fast-warming Arctic has started to transition from a predominantly frozen state into an entirely different climate, according to a comprehensive new study of Arctic conditions.

Solar cycle 25 is here. NASA, NOAA scientists explain what that means

Solar Cycle 25 has begun. During a media event on Tuesday, experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed their analysis and predictions about the new solar cycle—and how the coming upswing in space weather will impact our lives and technology on Earth, as well as astronauts in space.

A new species of spider

During a research stay in the highlands of Colombia conducted as part of her doctorate, Charlotte Hopfe, Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel at the Biomaterials research group at the University of Bayreuth, has discovered and zoologically described a new species of spider. The previously unknown arachnids are native to the central cordillera, not far from the Pacific coast, at an altitude of over 3,500 meters above sea-level. In the magazine PLOS ONE, the scientist from Bayreuth presents the spider she has called Ocrepeira klamt.

Dust may have controlled ancient human civilization

When early humans began to travel out of Africa and spread into Eurasia over a hundred thousand years ago, a fertile region around the eastern Mediterranean Sea called the Levant served as a critical gateway between northern Africa and Eurasia. A new study, published in Geology, shows that the existence of that oasis depended almost entirely on something we almost never think about: dust.

New calculation refines comparison of matter with antimatter

An international collaboration of theoretical physicists—including scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and the RIKEN-BNL Research Center (RBRC)—has published a new calculation relevant to the search for an explanation of the predominance of matter over antimatter in our universe. The collaboration, known as RBC-UKQCD, also includes scientists from CERN (the European particle physics laboratory), Columbia University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Edinburgh, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Regensburg, and the University of Southampton. They describe their result in a paper to be published in the journal Physical Review D and has been highlighted as an "editor's suggestion."

Oceanbird cargo ship relies on wind to transport autos

The latest trend in cargo shipping has roots in a concept that's been around a while. Say, 7,000 years or so.

COVID-19 virus uses heparan sulfate to get inside cells

A molecule known as ACE2 sits like a doorknob on the outer surfaces of the cells that line the lungs. Since January 2020, researchers have known that SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, primarily uses ACE2 to enter these cells and establish respiratory infections. Finding a way to lock out that interaction between virus and doorknob, as a means to treat the infection, has become the goal of many research studies.


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