Science X Newsletter Week 12

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 12:

Study confirms evolutionary link between social structure and selfishness

One of nature's most prolific cannibals could be hiding in your pantry, and biologists have used it to show how social structure affects the evolution of selfish behavior.

New result from the LHCb experiment challenges leading theory in physics

The LHCb Collaboration at CERN has found particles not behaving in the way they should according to the guiding theory of particle physics—the Standard Model.

LA's biggest quake threat sits on overlooked part of San Andreas, study says. That may be good

Scientists have pinpointed a long-overlooked portion of the southern San Andreas Fault that they say could pose the most significant earthquake risk for the Greater Los Angeles area—and it's about 80 years overdue for release.

Ancient genomes trace the origin and decline of the Scythians

Generally thought of as fierce horse warriors, the Scythians were a multitude of Iron Age cultures who ruled the Eurasian steppe, playing a major role in Eurasian history. A new study published in Science Advances analyzes genome-wide data for 111 ancient individuals spanning the Central Asian Steppe from the first millennia BCE and CE. The results reveal new insights into the genetic events associated with the origins, development and decline of the steppe's legendary Scythians.

Talking to horses as we talk to young children

Many people instinctively use baby-talk when talking to their pets, often characterized by a high-pitched voice and exaggerated intonations. The same is true for many riders with their horses. But are horses sensitive to this type of speech? Ethologists from INRAE and IFCE (French Horse and Riding Institute) have decided to find out. Their results, published on 18th March in Animal Cognition, show that horses are more attentive and seem to better understand our intentions when spoken to this way. This method could therefore be adopted by riders and breeders to facilitate daily interactions and improve animal welfare.

New theory suggests large blobs of material in Earth's mantle are remnants of protoplanet Theia

A team of scientists at Arizona State University has proposed that the large blobs of material in Earth's mantle (the large low-shear velocity provinces, LLSVPs) may be left over pieces of Theia, a protoplanet theorized to have struck Earth, resulting in the creation of the moon. The group argued their case at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and are awaiting publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

Astronomers image magnetic fields at the edge of M87's black hole

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which produced the first-ever image of a black hole, has today revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy: How it looks in polarized light. This is the first time astronomers have been able to measure polarization, a signature of magnetic fields, this close to the edge of a black hole. The observations are key to explaining how the M87 galaxy, located 55 million light-years away, is able to launch energetic jets from its core.

No threat to Earth as huge asteroid zooms past

The largest asteroid to pass by Earth this year has made its closest approach, posing no threat of a cataclysmic collision but giving astronomers a rare chance to study a rock formed during the beginning of our solar system.

Sea-level rise in 20th century was fastest in 2,000 years along much of East Coast

The rate of sea-level rise in the 20th century along much of the U.S. Atlantic coast was the fastest in 2,000 years, and southern New Jersey had the fastest rates, according to a Rutgers-led study.

Uranium compound achieves record anomalous Nernst conductivity

New research has demonstrated that a magnetic uranium compound can have strong thermoelectric properties, generating four times the transverse voltage from heat than the previous record in a cobalt-manganese-gallium compound. The result unlocks a new potential for the actinide elements at the bottom of the periodic table and point to a fresh direction in research on topological quantum materials.

Study: Preservative used in pop-tarts and hundreds of popular foods may harm the immune system

A food preservative used to prolong the shelf life of Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its and almost 1,250 other popular processed foods may harm the immune system, according to a new peer-reviewed study by Environmental Working Group.

First-ever vaccine for malignant brain tumors reported safe, effective in early trial

Tumor vaccines can help the body fight cancer. Mutations in the tumor genome often lead to protein changes that are typical of cancer. A vaccine can alert the patient's immune system to these mutated proteins. For the first time, physicians and cancer researchers from Heidelberg and Mannheim have now carried out a clinical trial to test a mutation-specific vaccine against malignant brain tumors. The vaccine proved to be safe and triggered the desired immune response in the tumor tissue, as the team now reports in the journal Nature.

Asdex Upgrade experimental facility generates its first plasma

For 30 years, the Asdex Upgrade has been paving the way for a fusion power plant that generates climate-neutral energy. The tokamak fusion plant was repeatedly expanded and improved during this time. Not least for this reason, it provides numerous insights that are incorporated into the design and operation of other fusion plants. For example, the Asdex Upgrade team has developed scenarios for the operation of the Jet test plant in the UK and the Iter test plant in France as well as forecasts for a planned demonstration power plant. A conversion planned for mid-2022 is intended to prepare the plant for the future.

Explosive origins of 'secondary' ice—and snow

Where does snow come from? This may seem like a simple question to ponder as half the planet emerges from a season of watching whimsical flakes fall from the sky—and shoveling them from driveways. But a new study on how water becomes ice in slightly supercooled Arctic clouds may make you rethink the simplicity of the fluffy stuff. The study, published by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, includes new direct evidence that shattering drizzle droplets drive explosive "ice multiplication" events. The findings have implications for weather forecasts, climate modeling, water supplies—and even energy and transportation infrastructure.

Lawyers used sheepskin as anti-fraud device for hundreds of years to stop fraudsters pulling the woo

Medieval and early modern lawyers chose to write on sheepskin parchment because it helped prevent fraud, new analysis suggests.

Chilean researchers investigate chemical composition of globular cluster NGC 6553

Using the Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers from Chile have performed a chemical analysis of a sample of stars in the globular cluster NGC 6553. Results of this study, available in a paper published March 12 on the arXiv pre-print server, shed more light on the chemical composition of this cluster.

Mural shows earliest known record of salt being sold at a marketplace in the Maya region (Update)

The first documented record of salt as an ancient Maya commodity at a marketplace is depicted in a mural painted more than 1,000 years ago at Calakmul, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In the mural that portrays daily life, a salt vendor shows what appears to be a salt cake wrapped in leaves to another person, who holds a large spoon over a basket, presumably of loose, granular salt. This is the earliest known record of salt being sold at a marketplace in the Maya region. Salt is a basic biological necessity and is also useful for preserving food. Salt also was valued in the Maya area because of its restricted distribution.

Snappy evolution was behind the success of ancient crocodiles

New research led by the University of Bristol has revealed that crocodiles once flourished on land and in the oceans as a result of fast evolution.

Scientists uncover a process that stands in the way of making quantum dots brighter

Bright semiconductor nanocrystals known as quantum dots give QLED TV screens their vibrant colors. But attempts to increase the intensity of that light generate heat instead, reducing the dots' light-producing efficiency.

Part of Wright brothers' 1st airplane on NASA's Mars chopper

A piece of the Wright brothers' first airplane is on Mars.

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