Science X Newsletter Week 29

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 29:

First lethal attacks by chimpanzees on gorillas observed

A research team from Osnabrück University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has, for the first time, observed lethal attacks by chimpanzees on gorillas in the wild. Whether this behavior is due to competition for food or to the decline of the rainforest's productivity caused by climate change will now be investigated in more detail.

Electromagnetism is a property of spacetime itself, study finds

Imagine if we could use strong electromagnetic fields to manipulate the local properties of spacetime—this could have important ramifications in terms of science and engineering.

Artificial intelligence helps improve NASA's eyes on the Sun

A group of researchers is using artificial intelligence techniques to calibrate some of NASA's images of the Sun, helping improve the data that scientists use for solar research. The new technique was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 13, 2021.

A bug's life: Millimeter-tall mountains on neutron stars

New models of neutron stars show that their tallest mountains may be only fractions of millimeters high, due to the huge gravity on the ultra-dense objects. The research is presented today at the National Astronomy Meeting 2021.

'Magic-angle' trilayer graphene may be a rare, magnet-proof superconductor

MIT physicists have observed signs of a rare type of superconductivity in a material called magic-angle twisted trilayer graphene. In a study appearing in Nature, the researchers report that the material exhibits superconductivity at surprisingly high magnetic fields of up to 10 Tesla, which is three times higher than what the material is predicted to endure if it were a conventional superconductor.

15,000-year-old viruses discovered in Tibetan glacier ice

Scientists who study glacier ice have found viruses nearly 15,000 years old in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China. Most of those viruses, which survived because they had remained frozen, are unlike any viruses that have been cataloged to date.

Microbially produced fibers: Stronger than steel, tougher than Kevlar

Spider silk is said to be one of the strongest, toughest materials on the Earth. Now engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have designed amyloid silk hybrid proteins and produced them in engineered bacteria. The resulting fibers are stronger and tougher than some natural spider silks.

Making clean hydrogen is hard, but researchers just solved a major hurdle

For decades, researchers around the world have searched for ways to use solar power to generate the key reaction for producing hydrogen as a clean energy source—splitting water molecules to form hydrogen and oxygen. However, such efforts have mostly failed because doing it well was too costly, and trying to do it at a low cost led to poor performance.

Solar cells: Layer of three crystals produces a thousand times more power

The photovoltaic effect of ferroelectric crystals can be increased by a factor of 1,000 if three different materials are arranged periodically in a lattice. This has been revealed in a study by researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). They achieved this by creating crystalline layers of barium titanate, strontium titanate and calcium titanate which they alternately placed on top of one another. Their findings, which could significantly increase the efficiency of solar cells, were published in the journal Science Advances.

Image: Hubble views a faraway galaxy through a cosmic lens

The center of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is framed by the tell-tale arcs that result from strong gravitational lensing, a striking astronomical phenomenon which can warp, magnify, or even duplicate the appearance of distant galaxies.

Long-period oscillations of the Sun discovered

A team of solar physicists led by Laurent Gizon of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and the University of Göttingen in Germany has reported the discovery of global oscillations of the Sun with very long periods, comparable to the 27-day solar rotation period. The oscillations manifest themselves at the solar surface as swirling motions with speeds on the order of 5 kilometers per hour. These motions were measured by analyzing 10 years of observations from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Using computer models, the scientists have shown that the newly discovered oscillations are resonant modes and owe their existence to the Sun's differential rotation. The oscillations will help establish novel ways to probe the Sun's interior and obtain information about our star's inner structure and dynamics. The scientists describe their findings in a letter to appear today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Astronomers make first clear detection of a moon-forming disc around an exoplanet

Using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, astronomers have unambiguously detected the presence of a disk around a planet outside our Solar System for the first time. The observations will shed new light on how moons and planets form in young stellar systems.

InSight mission: Mars unveiled

Using information obtained from around a dozen earthquakes detected on Mars by the Very Broad Band SEIS seismometer, developed in France, the international team of NASA's InSight mission has unveiled the internal structure of Mars. The three papers published on July 23, 2021 in the journal Science, involving numerous co-authors from French institutions and laboratories, including the CNRS, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and Université de Paris, and supported in particular by the French space agency CNES and the French National Research Agency ANR, provide, for the first time, an estimate of the size of the planet's core, the thickness of its crust and the structure of its mantle, based on the analysis of seismic waves reflected and modified by interfaces in its interior. It makes this the first ever seismic exploration of the internal structure of a terrestrial planet other than Earth, and an important step towards understanding the formation and thermal evolution of Mars.

DNA from 93-year-old butterfly confirms the first US case of human-led insect extinction

The Xerces blue butterfly was last seen flapping its iridescent periwinkle wings in San Francisco in the early 1940s. It's generally accepted to be extinct, the first American insect species destroyed by urban development, but there are lingering questions about whether it was really a species to begin with, or just a sub-population of another common butterfly. In a new study in Biology Letters, researchers analyzed the DNA of a 93-year-old Xerces blue specimen in museum collections, and they found that its DNA is unique enough to merit being considered a species. The study confirms that yes, the Xerces blue really did go extinct, and that insect conservation is something we have to take seriously.

Yellowstone rattled by swarm of more than 140 earthquakes in past day, geologists say

A swarm of more than 141 earthquakes is rattling Yellowstone National Park, geologists said.

Signs of life on Mars? Perseverance rover begins the hunt

NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has begun its search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. Flexing its 7-foot (2-meter) mechanical arm, the rover is testing the sensitive detectors it carries, capturing their first science readings. Along with analyzing rocks using X-rays and ultraviolet light, the six-wheeled scientist will zoom in for closeups of tiny segments of rock surfaces that might show evidence of past microbial activity.

Gaming graphics card allows faster, more precise control of fusion energy experiments

Nuclear fusion offers the potential for a safe, clean and abundant energy source.

Planetary shields will buckle under stellar winds from their dying stars

Any life identified on planets orbiting white dwarf stars almost certainly evolved after the star's death, says a new study led by the University of Warwick that reveals the consequences of the intense and furious stellar winds that will batter a planet as its star is dying. The research is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and lead author Dr. Dimitri Veras will present it today (21 July) at the online National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).

A new theory to explain the transparency of metallic oxides

The electrons of some metal oxides, due to their large effective mass when coupled with the ionic lattice of the material, cannot follow the electric field of light and allow it to pass through the material. Transparent and conductive materials are used in smartphone touch screens and solar panels for photovoltaic energy.

RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University.

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