Science X Newsletter Week 42

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 42:

Physicists successfully carry out controlled transport of stored light

A team of physicists led by Professor Patrick Windpassinger at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has successfully transported light stored in a quantum memory over a distance of 1.2 millimeters. They have demonstrated that the controlled transport process and its dynamics has only little impact on the properties of the stored light. The researchers used ultra-cold rubidium-87 atoms as a storage medium for the light as to achieve a high level of storage efficiency and a long lifetime.

Climate change likely drove early human species to extinction, modeling study suggests

Of the six or more different species of early humans, all belonging to the genus Homo, only we Homo sapiens have managed to survive. Now, a study reported in the journal One Earth on October 15 combining climate modeling and the fossil record in search of clues to what led to all those earlier extinctions of our ancient ancestors suggests that climate change—the inability to adapt to either warming or cooling temperatures—likely played a major role in sealing their fate.

The spin of the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way

Once a black hole forms, its intense gravitational field produces a surface beyond which even light cannot escape, and it appears black to outsiders. All the details of the complex mix of matter and energy in its past are lost, leaving it so simple that it can be completely described by just three parameters: mass, spin, and electric charge. Astronomers can measure the masses of black holes in a relatively straightforward way by watching how matter moves in their vicinity (including other black holes) under the influence of their gravitational fields.

Researchers synthesize room temperature superconducting material

Compressing simple molecular solids with hydrogen at extremely high pressures, University of Rochester engineers and physicists have, for the first time, created material that is superconducting at room temperature.

The puzzle of the strange galaxy made of 99.9% dark matter is solved

At present, the formation of galaxies is difficult to understand without the presence of a ubiquitous, but mysterious component, termed dark matter. Astronomers have measure how much dark matter there is around galaxies, and have found that it varies between 10 and 300 times the quantity of visible matter. However, a few years ago, the discovery of a very diffuse object, named Dragonfly 44, changed this view. It was found that this galaxy has 10,000 times more dark matter than the stars. Taken back by this finding, astronomers have made efforts to see whether this object is really anomalous, or whether something went wrong in the analysis of the observations. Now we have the answer.

Stacking and twisting graphene unlocks a rare form of magnetism

Since the discovery of graphene more than 15 years ago, researchers have been in a global race to unlock its unique properties. Not only is graphene—a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon arranged in a hexagonal lattice—the strongest, thinnest material known to man, it is also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.

Supergiant star Betelgeuse smaller, closer than first thought

It may be another 100,000 years until the giant red star Betelgeuse dies in a fiery explosion, according to a new study by an international team of researchers.

SARS-CoV-2 antibodies provide lasting immunity

One of the most significant questions about the novel coronavirus is whether people who are infected are immune from reinfection and, if so, for how long.

Simulations reveal that rocky super-Earths with thin atmospheres are often protected by a Jupiter-like planet

An international group of astronomers, led by Martin Schlecker of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, has found that the arrangement of rocky, gaseous and icy planets in planetary systems is apparently not random and depends on only a few initial conditions. The study, which will appear in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, is based on a new simulation that tracks the evolution of planetary systems over several billion years. Planetary systems around sun-like stars, which produce in their inner regions super-Earths with low water and gas content, very often form a planet comparable to our Jupiter on an outer orbit. Such planets help to keep potentially dangerous objects away from the inner regions.

Melting Alpine glaciers yield archaeologic troves, but clock ticking

The group climbed the steep mountainside, clambering across an Alpine glacier, before finding what they were seeking: a crystal vein filled with the precious rocks needed to sculpt their tools.

When human and machine agree about iridium oxide

A human research team and a machine learning algorithm have found that we need to rethink much of what we know about iridium oxide.

Groundbreaking discovery finally proves rain really can move mountains

A pioneering technique that captures precisely how mountains bend to the will of raindrops has helped to solve a long-standing scientific enigma.

Zeptoseconds: New world record in short time measurement

In 1999, the Egyptian chemist Ahmed Zewail received the Nobel Prize for measuring the speed at which molecules change their shape. He founded femtochemistry using ultrashort laser flashes: the formation and breakup of chemical bonds occurs in the realm of femtoseconds.

World first study shows that some microorganisms can bend the rules of evolution

The dominant thinking in evolution focuses on inheritance between parent and offspring – or 'vertical gene transfer (VGT)'.

More than 200 million Americans could have toxic PFAS in their drinking water

A peer-reviewed study by scientists at the Environmental Working Group estimates that more than 200 million Americans could have the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS in their drinking water at a concentration of 1 part per trillion, or ppt, or higher. Independent scientific studies have recommended a safe level for PFAS in drinking water of 1 ppt, a standard that is endorsed by EWG.

Turning plastic waste into hydrogen gas and carbon nanotubes

A team of researchers from the U.K., China, and Saudi Arabia has developed a process for converting plastic waste into hydrogen gas and carbon nanotubes. In their paper published in the journal Nature Catalysis, the group describes their process and how well it worked when tested.

Now you see it, now you don't: Hidden colours discovered by coincidence

Scientists in Australia have stumbled across an unusual way to observe color that had previously gone unnoticed.

Experimental COVID-19 treatment given to Trump found to relieve symptoms in macaques and hamsters

A team of researchers with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., working with the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, has found that the antibody cocktail given to President Trump was effective in reducing COVID-19 symptoms in rhesus macaques and golden hamsters. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their experiments, which involved giving the cocktail to test monkeys and hamsters.

Bringing a power tool from math into quantum computing

The Fourier transform is an important mathematical tool that decomposes a function or dataset into a its constituent frequencies, much like one could decompose a musical chord into a combination of its notes. It is used across all fields of engineering in some form or another and, accordingly, algorithms to compute it efficiently have been developed—that is, at least for conventional computers. But what about quantum computers?

Tetrahedra may explain water's uniqueness

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo sifted through experimental data to probe the possibility that supercooled water has a liquid-to-liquid phase transition between disordered and tetrahedrally structured forms. They found evidence of a critical point based on the cooperative formation of tetrahedra, and show its minor role in water's anomalies. This work shows that water's special qualities—which are essential for life—originate predominantly from the two-state feature.


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