Science X Newsletter Week 40

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 40:

Physicists build circuit that generates clean, limitless power from graphene

A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a circuit capable of capturing graphene's thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.

Quantum entanglement realized between distant large objects

A team of researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, have succeeded in entangling two very different quantum objects. The result has several potential applications in ultra-precise sensing and quantum communication and is now published in Nature Physics.

Second alignment plane of solar system discovered

A study of comet motions indicates that the solar system has a second alignment plane. Analytical investigation of the orbits of long-period comets shows that the aphelia of the comets, the point where they are farthest from the Sun, tend to fall close to either the well-known ecliptic plane where the planets reside or a newly discovered "empty ecliptic." This has important implications for models of how comets originally formed in the solar system.

Why writing by hand makes kids smarter

New brain research shows that writing by hand helps children learn more and remember better. At the same time, schools are becoming more and more digital, and a European survey shows that Norwegian children spend the most time online of 19 countries in the EU.

Stellar explosion in Earth's proximity

When the brightness of the star Betelgeuse dropped dramatically a few months ago, some observers suspected an impending supernova—a stellar explosion that could also cause damage on Earth. While Betelgeuse has returned to normal, physicists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have found evidence of a supernova that exploded near the Earth around 2.5 million years ago.

Scientists precisely measure total amount of matter in the universe

A top goal in cosmology is to precisely measure the total amount of matter in the universe, a daunting exercise for even the most mathematically proficient. A team led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has now done just that.

Venom glands similar to those of snakes are found for first time in amphibians

A group led by researchers at Butantan Institute in Brazil and supported by FAPESP has described for the first time the presence of venom glands in the mouth of an amphibian. The legless animal is a caecilian and lives underground. It has tooth-related glands that, when compressed during biting, release a secretion into its prey—earthworms, insect larvae, small amphibians and snakes, and even rodent pups. A paper reporting the study is published in iScience.

The Arctic is burning in a whole new way

"Zombie fires" and burning of fire-resistant vegetation are new features driving Arctic fires—with strong consequences for the global climate—warn international fire scientists in a commentary published in Nature Geoscience.

Very Large Telescope spots galaxies trapped in the web of a supermassive black hole

With the help of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have found six galaxies lying around a supermassive black hole when the Universe was less than a billion years old. This is the first time such a close grouping has been seen so soon after the Big Bang and the finding helps us better understand how supermassive black holes, one of which exists at the centre of our Milky Way, formed and grew to their enormous sizes so quickly. It supports the theory that black holes can grow rapidly within large, web-like structures which contain plenty of gas to fuel them.

Einstein's description of gravity just got much harder to beat

Einstein's theory of general relativity—the idea that gravity is matter warping spacetime—has withstood over 100 years of scrutiny and testing, including the newest test from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, published today in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters.

Astronomers find the first galaxy whose ultraviolet luminosity is comparable to that of a quasar

Using observations made with the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma, Canary Islands), and with the ATACAMA Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA), in Chile, astronomers have found the first galaxy whose ultraviolet luminosity is comparable to that of a quasar. The discovery was recently published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters.

Astronomers reveal first direct image of Beta Pictoris c using new astronomy instrument

The vast majority of planets near foreign stars are discovered by astronomers with the help of sophisticated methods. The exoplanet does not appear in the image, but reveals itself indirectly in the spectrum. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Astronomy and Extraterrestrial Physics has now succeeded in obtaining the first direct confirmation of a previously discovered exoplanet using the method of radial velocity measurement. Using the the GRAVITY instrument at the VLT telescopes in Chile, the astronomers observed the faint glint of the planet Beta Pictoris c, some 63 light-years away from Earth, next to the bright rays of its mother star. The researchers can now derive both the brightness and the dynamic mass of an exoplanet from these observations and thus better narrow down the formation models of these objects.

First study with exoplanet satellite data describes one of the most extreme planets in the universe

CHEOPS keeps its promise: Observations with the space telescope have revealed details of the exoplanet WASP-189b—one of the most extreme planets known. CHEOPS is a joint mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Switzerland, under the aegis of the University of Bern in collaboration with the University of Geneva.

Validating the physics behind the new MIT-designed fusion experiment

Two and a half years ago, MIT entered into a research agreement with startup company Commonwealth Fusion Systems to develop a next-generation fusion research experiment, called SPARC, as a precursor to a practical, emissions-free power plant.

Evidence of a cat recognizing and mimicking human behavior

A small team of researchers with Eötvös Loránd University's Department of Ethology in Budapest has observed an instance of a house cat recognizing and then mimicking human behavior. The group has written a paper describing their observations and published it in the journal Animal Cognition.

Researchers extract DNA from insects embedded in resin

For the first time, Senckenberg scientist Mónica Solórzano-Kraemer, together with lead authors David Peris and Kathrin Janssen of the University of Bonn and additional colleagues from Spain and Norway, successfully extracted genetic material from insects that were embedded in six- and two-year-old resin samples. DNA—in particular, DNA from extinct animals—is an important tool in the identification of species. In the future, the researchers plan to use their new methods on older resin inclusions, as well. The study was published today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Video shows a meteoroid skipping off Earth's atmosphere

Here's something we don't see very often: an Earth-grazing meteoroid.

Human biology registers two seasons, not four, study suggests

As kids, we learn there are four seasons, but researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine have found evidence to suggest that the human body doesn't see it this way.

Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

Venus might not be a sweltering, waterless hellscape today, if Jupiter hadn't altered its orbit around the sun, according to new UC Riverside research.

Breaking new ground in the search for dark matter

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is renowned for the hunt for and discovery of the Higgs boson, but in the 10 years since the machine collided protons at an energy higher than previously achieved at a particle accelerator, researchers have been using it to try to hunt down an equally exciting particle: the hypothetical particle that may make up an invisible form of matter called dark matter, which is five times more prevalent than ordinary matter and without which there would be no universe as we know it. The LHC dark-matter searches have so far come up empty handed, as have non-collider searches, but the incredible work and skill put by the LHC researchers into finding it has led them to narrow down many of the regions where the particle may lie hidden—necessary milestones on the path to a discovery.

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Science X Newsletter Sunday, Oct 4

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 4, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Nobel Prizes and COVID-19: Slow, basic science may pay off

Antarctic Peninsula at warmest in decades: study

Radish seeds, meats and cheeses launched to space station

Egypt reveals 59 ancient coffins found near Saqqara pyramids

What you need to know about Regeneron's COVID-19 treatment

DECT in the ED: better diagnoses, less follow-up, more savings

Subsidized cars help low-income families economically, socially

What is contact tracing, and how does it work with COVID-19?

On 10th birthday, Instagram no longer an escape from reality

Huge rescue effort after deadly storm barrels across France, Italy

New artificial intelligence models show potential for predicting outcomes

All members of military surgical teams can benefit from military-civilian partnerships

Surgery for benign breast disease does not impair future breastfeeding capability

Female Spanish-only speakers get screening mammograms less often than other women

STOP THE BLEED training has saved lives from Sierra Leone to Connecticut

Astronomy and Space news

Radish seeds, meats and cheeses launched to space station

A space station cargo ship rocketed into orbit Friday carrying a 360-degree camera for spacewalking, radish seeds for growing and a smorgasbord of fancy meats and cheeses for feasting.

Technology news

On 10th birthday, Instagram no longer an escape from reality

Artful photos of sunsets and ice cream are being challenged by more activist content on Instagram as it turns 10 years old in a time of social justice protests, climate crisis, and the pandemic.

Green-oriented NextEra nears ExxonMobil in market value

In a sign of shifting fortunes in the energy business, green-oriented power company NextEra Energy on Friday sparred with petroleum giant Exxon Mobil for market capitalization supremacy.

IndyCar extends deal with manufacturers, delays new engine

The IndyCar Series will continue running the same engines each of the next two seasons.

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