Science X Newsletter Week 18

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 18:

Review: Most human origins stories are not compatible with known fossils

In the 150 years since Charles Darwin speculated that humans originated in Africa, the number of species in the human family tree has exploded, but so has the level of dispute concerning early human evolution. Fossil apes are often at the center of the debate, with some scientists dismissing their importance to the origins of the human lineage (the "hominins"), and others conferring them starring evolutionary roles. A new review out on May 7 in the journal Science looks at the major discoveries in hominin origins since Darwin's works and argues that fossil apes can inform us about essential aspects of ape and human evolution, including the nature of our last common ancestor.

Gravitational-wave scientists propose new method to refine the Hubble Constant—the expansion and age of the universe

A team of international scientists, led by the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (IGFAE) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), has proposed a simple and novel method to bring the accuracy of the Hubble constant measurements down to 2% using a single observation of a pair of merging neutron stars.

Ancient DNA reveals origin of first Bronze Age civilizations in Europe

The first civilizations to build monumental palaces and urban centers in Europe are more genetically homogenous than expected, according to the first study to sequence whole genomes gathered from ancient archaeological sites around the Aegean Sea. The study has been published in the journal Cell.

Perseverance Mars rover captures video, audio of fourth Ingenuity flight

For the first time, a spacecraft on another planet has recorded the sounds of a separate spacecraft. NASA's Perseverance Mars rover used one of its two microphones to listen as the Ingenuity helicopter flew for the fourth time on April 30, 2021. A new video combines footage of the solar-powered helicopter taken by Perseverance's Mastcam-Z imager with audio from a microphone belonging to the rover's SuperCam laser instrument.

New bonobo genome fine tunes great ape evolution studies

Chimpanzees and bonobos diverged comparatively recently in great ape evolutionary history. They split into different species about 1.7 million years ago. Some of the distinctions between chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and bonobo (Pan paniscus) lineages have been made clearer by a recent achievement in hominid genomics.

A new window to see hidden side of magnetized universe

New observations and simulations show that jets of high-energy particles emitted from the central massive black hole in the brightest galaxy in galaxy clusters can be used to map the structure of invisible inter-cluster magnetic fields. These findings provide astronomers with a new tool for investigating previously unexplored aspects of clusters of galaxies.

Complex shapes of photons to boost future quantum technologies

As the digital revolution has now become mainstream, quantum computing and quantum communication are rising in the consciousness of the field. The enhanced measurement technologies enabled by quantum phenomena, and the possibility of scientific progress using new methods, are of particular interest to researchers around the world.

Spinning black holes could deform under an external and static gravitational field

An open question among the physics community is whether black holes can be tidally deformed by an external gravitational field. If this were confirmed to be true, it could have important implications for many areas of physics, including fundamental physics, astrophysics and gravitational-wave astronomy.

Researchers confront major hurdle in quantum computing

In a series of papers, Rochester researchers report major strides in improving the transfer of information in quantum systems.

Ingenuity Mars helicopter completes first one-way trip

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter completed its fifth flight on the Red Planet today with its first one-way journey from Wright Brothers Field to an airfield 423 feet (129 meters) to the south. After arrival above its new airfield, Ingenuity climbed to an altitude record of 33 feet (10 meters) and captured high-resolution color images of its new neighborhood before touching down.

What on earth? Fragments of ancient ocean floor, Earth's inner mantle identified in Baltimore-area rocks

Separately and to the untrained eye, they are not particularly distinguished rocks—the backdrop to several holes at the Forest Park Golf Course, part of an excavation to improve the water system at Lake Ashburton, or left behind in abandoned quarries and mines around the area.

Deep space listening: 6000 hours of research to hear continuous gravitational waves

When searching for lost keys, there are a number of possible strategies. You might try moving from room to room, casting your eye over every flat surface, in the hope of spotting the missing keys. Of course, this assumes that they are somewhere in plain sight; if they're hidden under a newspaper or have fallen behind the sofa, you'll never spot them. So which is the best strategy?

Physicists find a novel way to switch antiferromagnetism on and off

When you save an image to your smartphone, those data are written onto tiny transistors that are electrically switched on or off in a pattern of "bits" to represent and encode that image. Most transistors today are made from silicon, an element that scientists have managed to switch at ever-smaller scales, enabling billions of bits, and therefore large libraries of images and other files, to be packed onto a single memory chip.

'Molecular glue' makes perovskite solar cells dramatically more reliable over time

A research team from Brown University has made a major step toward improving the long-term reliability of perovskite solar cells, an emerging clean energy technology. In a study to be published on Friday, May 7 in the journal Science, the team demonstrates a "molecular glue" that keeps a key interface inside cells from degrading. The treatment dramatically increases cells' stability and reliability over time, while also improving the efficiency with which they convert sunlight into electricity.

Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable

Since it was first introduced in 2016, transparent wood has been developed by researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology as an innovative structural material for building construction. It lets natural light through and can even store thermal energy.

Archaeological study of mustatils reveals more complexity than assumed

A team of researchers from the University of Western Australia has found that the mustatils in northwest Saudi Arabia are more complex than has been previously believed. After studying the mustatils both on the ground and from helicopters, they have found there are also more of them than were known. They have written a paper describing their findings and have posted it on Cambridge Core.

MIT turns 'magic' material into versatile electronic devices

In a feat worthy of a laboratory conceived by J.K. Rowling, MIT researchers and colleagues have turned a "magic" material composed of atomically thin layers of carbon into three useful electronic devices. Normally, such devices, all key to the quantum electronics industry, are created using a variety of materials that require multiple fabrication steps. The MIT approach automatically solves a variety of problems associated with those more complicated processes.

Hologram experts can now create real-life images that move in the air

They may be tiny weapons, but Brigham Young University's holography research group has figured out how to create lightsabers—green for Yoda and red for Darth Vader, naturally—with actual luminous beams rising from them.

Astronomers discover a new extragalactic circular radio source

Using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Path´Čünder (ASKAP), astronomers have detected a new extragalactic odd radio circle (ORC). The newfound radio source, designated ORC J0102–2450, has a diameter of nearly 1 million light years. The finding is reported in a paper published April 27 on arXiv.org.

A giant piece of space junk is hurtling towards Earth. Here's how worried you should be

A large piece of space debris, possibly weighing several tonnes, is currently on an uncontrolled reentry phase (that's space speak for "out of control"), and parts of it are expected to crash down to Earth over the next few weeks.


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