Science X Newsletter Week 14

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 14:

NASA's Mars Helicopter to make first flight attempt Sunday

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is two days away from making humanity's first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. If all proceeds as planned, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is expected to take off from Mars' Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. local Mars solar time (10:54 p.m. EDT), hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Mission control specialists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California expect to receive the first data from the first flight attempt the following morning at around 4:15 a.m. EDT.

'Tantalizing' results of 2 experiments defy physics rulebook

Preliminary results from two experiments suggest something could be wrong with the basic way physicists think the universe works, a prospect that has the field of particle physics both baffled and thrilled.

This hydrogen fuel machine could be the ultimate guide to self-improvement

Three years ago, scientists at the University of Michigan discovered an artificial photosynthesis device made of silicon and gallium nitride (Si/GaN) that harnesses sunlight into carbon-free hydrogen for fuel cells with twice the efficiency and stability of some previous technologies.

Hubble spots double quasars in merging galaxies

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is "seeing double." Peering back 10 billion years into the universe's past, Hubble astronomers found a pair of quasars that are so close to each other they look like a single object in ground-based telescopic photos, but not in Hubble's crisp view.

CPU algorithm trains deep neural nets up to 15 times faster than top GPU trainers

Rice University computer scientists have demonstrated artificial intelligence (AI) software that runs on commodity processors and trains deep neural networks 15 times faster than platforms based on graphics processors.

NASA space copter ready for first Mars flight

The helicopter that NASA has placed on Mars could make its first flight over the Red Planet within two days after a successful initial test of its rotors, the US space agency said Friday.

Size of raindrops can help identify potentially habitable planets outside our solar system

One day, humankind may step foot on another habitable planet. That planet may look very different from Earth, but one thing will feel familiar—the rain.

New study ties solar variability to the onset of decadal La Nina events

A new study shows a correlation between the end of solar cycles and a switch from El Nino to La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean, suggesting that solar variability can drive seasonal weather variability on Earth.

In a comprehensive new test, the EmDrive fails to generate any thrust

The EmDrive is a hypothetical rocket that proponents claim can generate thrust with no exhaust. This would violate all known physics. In 2016, a team at NASA's Eagleworks lab claimed to measure thrust from an EmDrive device, the news of which caused quite a stir. The latest attempt to replicate the shocking results has resulted in a simple answer: The Eagleworks measurement was from heating of the engine mount, not any new physics.

New, reversible CRISPR method can control gene expression while leaving underlying DNA sequence unchanged

Over the past decade, the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system has revolutionized genetic engineering, allowing scientists to make targeted changes to organisms' DNA. While the system could potentially be useful in treating a variety of diseases, CRISPR-Cas9 editing involves cutting DNA strands, leading to permanent changes to the cell's genetic material.

Radio telescope reveals thousands of star-forming galaxies in early Universe

The images capture drama billions of years ago in the early Universe—glinting galaxies, glowing with stars that have exploded into supernovas and blazing jets fired from black holes.

Scientists discover two new species of ancient, burrowing mammal ancestors

Paleontologists have discovered two new species of mammal-like, burrowing animals that lived about 120 million years ago in what is now northeastern China. The new species, described today in the journal Nature, are distantly related but independently evolved traits to support their digging lifestyle. They represent the first "scratch-diggers" discovered in this ecosystem.

Humans were apex predators for two million years

Researchers at Tel Aviv University were able to reconstruct the nutrition of stone age humans. In a paper published in the Yearbook of the American Physical Anthropology Association, Dr. Miki Ben-Dor and Prof. Ran Barkai of the Jacob M. Alkov Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, together with Raphael Sirtoli of Portugal, show that humans were an apex predator for about two million years. Only the extinction of larger animals (megafauna) in various parts of the world, and the decline of animal food sources toward the end of the stone age, led humans to gradually increase the vegetable element in their nutrition, until finally they had no choice but to domesticate both plants and animals—and became farmers.

New estimate of muon's magnetic field strength aligns with standard model of particle physics

A new estimation of the strength of the magnetic field around the muon—a sub-atomic particle similar to, but heavier than, an electron—closes the gap between theory and experimental measurements, bringing it in line with the standard model that has guided particle physics for decades.

NASA's first weather report from Jezero Crater on Mars

The weather often plays a role in our daily plans. You might put on a light jacket when the forecast calls for a cool breeze or delay your travel plans because of an impending storm. NASA engineers use weather data to inform their plans, too, which is why they're analyzing the conditions millions of miles away on Mars.

Field guides: Scientists bolster evidence of new physics in Muon g-2 experiment

Scientists are testing our fundamental understanding of the universe, and there's much more to discover.

Model reveals surprising disconnect between physical characteristics and genetic ancestry in certain populations

A new study by Stanford University biologists finds an explanation for the idea that physical characteristics such as skin pigmentation are "only skin deep." Using genetic modeling, the team has found that when two populations with distinct traits combine over generations, traits of individuals within the resulting "admixed" population come to reveal very little about individuals' ancestry. Their findings were published March 27 in a special edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology on race and racism.

Different neutron energies enhance asteroid deflection

A research collaboration between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) investigates how the neutron energy output from a nuclear device detonation can affect the deflection of an asteroid.

Paleopharmaceuticals from Baltic amber might fight drug-resistant infections

For centuries, people in Baltic nations have used ancient amber for medicinal purposes. Even today, infants are given amber necklaces that they chew to relieve teething pain, and people put pulverized amber in elixirs and ointments for its purported anti-inflammatory and anti-infective properties. Now, scientists have pinpointed compounds that help explain Baltic amber's therapeutic effects and that could lead to new medicines to combat antibiotic-resistant infections.

A graphene system that freezes electrons as the temperature rises

Two teams of researchers have independently found that there exists a certain type of graphene system where electrons freeze as the temperature rises. The first team, with members from Israel, the U.S. and Japan, found that placing one layer of graphene atop another and then twisting the one on top resulted in a graphene state in which the electrons would freeze as temperatures rose. And in attempting to explain what they observed, they discovered that the entropy of the near-insulating phase was approximately half of what would be expected from free-electron spins. The second team, with members from the U.S., Japan and Israel, found the same graphene system and in their investigation to understand their observations, they noted that a large magnetic moment arose in the insulator. Both teams have published their results in the journal Nature. Biao Lian with Princeton University has published a News and Views piece outlining the work by both teams in the same journal issue.


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Science X Newsletter Sunday, Apr 11

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 11, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Treating sleep apnea may reduce dementia risk

All aboard! Next stop space...

NASA space copter ready for first Mars flight

NASA delays Mars copter flight for tech check

Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

Famed Egyptian archaeologist reveals details of ancient city

Personalized cancer vaccine is safe, shows potential benefit against cancer

S. African COVID variant better at bypassing Pfizer/BioNTech jab: Israeli study

Hands-free: Monkey plays video game - with its brain

Workers urge Google parent to get tough on harassment

Two dead whales wash up on Bangladesh beach

St. Vincent awaits new volcanic explosions as help arrives

Study: Facebook delivers biased job ads, skewed by gender

No 'causal' link found yet between J&J vaccine and blood clots: US health authorities

In Houston, a race to vaccinate its student population

Astronomy and Space news

All aboard! Next stop space...

Several hundred people have already booked their tickets and begun training for a spectacular voyage: a few minutes, or perhaps days, in the weightlessness of space.

NASA space copter ready for first Mars flight

The helicopter that NASA has placed on Mars could make its first flight over the Red Planet within two days after a successful initial test of its rotors, the US space agency said Friday.

NASA delays Mars copter flight for tech check

NASA has delayed by at least several days the first flight of its mini-helicopter on Mars after a possible tech issue emerged while testing its rotors, the US space agency said Saturday.

Technology news

Workers urge Google parent to get tough on harassment

A letter calling for Google's parent company Alphabet to better protect people who report sexual harassment on the job was signed by more than 1,000 workers soon after being posted online Friday.

Study: Facebook delivers biased job ads, skewed by gender

Facebook is showing different job ads to women and men in a way that might run afoul of anti-discrimination laws, according to a new study.

Electric vehicle battery firms settle trade spat

Two big South Korean electric vehicle battery makers have settled a long-running trade dispute that will allow one of them to move ahead with plans to make batteries in Georgia, a person briefed on the matter says.

China hits Alibaba with record $2.78bn fine for market abuses

Chinese regulators hit e-commerce giant Alibaba with a record 18.2 billion yuan ($2.78 billion) fine on Saturday over practices deemed to be an abuse of the company's dominant market position.

Union drive at Amazon warehouse fails after bitter campaign

A contentious unionization drive at an Amazon warehouse in the southern US state of Alabama failed Friday as a vote count showed a wide majority of workers rejecting the move.


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