Science X Newsletter Week 25

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 25:

Geochemical study confirms cause of end-Permian mass extinction event

The most severe mass extinction event in the past 540 million years eliminated more than 90 percent of Earth's marine species and 75 percent of terrestrial species. Although scientists had previously hypothesized that the end-Permian mass extinction, which took place 251 million years ago, was triggered by voluminous volcanic eruptions in a region of what is now Siberia, they were not able to explain the mechanism by which the eruptions resulted in the extinction of so many different species, both in the oceans and on land.

'Dragon man' fossil may replace Neanderthals as our closest relative

A near-perfectly preserved ancient human fossil known as the Harbin cranium sits in the Geoscience Museum in Hebei GEO University. The largest of known Homo skulls, scientists now say this skull represents a newly discovered human species named Homo longi or "Dragon Man." Their findings, appearing in three papers publishing June 25 in the journal The Innovation, suggest that the Homo longi lineage may be our closest relatives—and has the potential to reshape our understanding of human evolution.

Crushing climate impacts to hit sooner than feared: draft UN report

Climate change will fundamentally reshape life on Earth in the coming decades, even if humans can tame planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, according to a landmark draft report from the UN's climate science advisors obtained by AFP.

Is dark matter real, or have we misunderstood gravity?

For many years now, astronomers and physicists have been in a conflict. Is the mysterious dark matter that we observe deep in the Universe real, or is what we see the result of subtle deviations from the laws of gravity as we know them? In 2016, Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde proposed a theory of the second kind: emergent gravity. New research, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics this week, pushes the limits of dark matter observations to the unknown outer regions of galaxies, and in doing so re-evaluates several dark matter models and alternative theories of gravity. Measurements of the gravity of 259,000 isolated galaxies show a very close relation between the contributions of dark matter and those of ordinary matter, as predicted in Verlinde's theory of emergent gravity and an alternative model called Modified Newtonian Dynamics. However, the results also appear to agree with a computer simulation of the Universe that assumes that dark matter is 'real stuff'.

Tiny ancient bird from China shares skull features with Tyrannosaurus rex

Researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered a 120-million-year-old partial fossil skeleton of a tiny extinct bird that fits in the palm of the hand and preserves a unique skull with a mix of dinosaurian and bird features.

Comet strike may have sparked civilisation shift

A cluster of comet fragments believed to have hit Earth nearly 13,000 years ago may have shaped the origins of human civilisation, research suggests.

Antarctic lake suddenly disappears

A global team of scientists including several from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego discovered the sudden demise of a large, deep, ice-covered lake on the surface of an Antarctic ice shelf.

Growing food with air and solar power: More efficient than planting crops

A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, the University of Naples Federico II, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences has found that making food from air would be far more efficient than growing crops. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their analysis and comparison of the efficiency of growing crops (soybeans) and using a food-from-air technique.

Being Anglo-Saxon was a matter of language and culture, not genetics

A new study from archaeologists at University of Sydney and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, has provided important new evidence to answer the question "Who exactly were the Anglo-Saxons?"

Ultralight material withstands supersonic microparticle impacts

A new study by engineers at MIT, Caltech, and ETH Z├╝rich shows that "nanoarchitected" materials—materials designed from precisely patterned nanoscale structures—may be a promising route to lightweight armor, protective coatings, blast shields, and other impact-resistant materials.

NASA's Webb Telescope will use quasars to unlock the secrets of the early universe

Quasars are very bright, distant and active supermassive black holes that are millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun. Typically located at the centers of galaxies, they feed on infalling matter and unleash fantastic torrents of radiation. Among the brightest objects in the universe, a quasar's light outshines that of all the stars in its host galaxy combined, and its jets and winds shape the galaxy in which it resides.

Why 'nuclear batteries' offer a new approach to carbon-free energy

We may be on the brink of a new paradigm for nuclear power, a group of nuclear specialists suggested recently in The Bridge, the journal of the National Academy of Engineering. Much as large, expensive, and centralized computers gave way to the widely distributed PCs of today, a new generation of relatively tiny and inexpensive factory-built reactors, designed for autonomous plug-and-play operation similar to plugging in an oversized battery, is on the horizon, they say.

Research finds 'fool's gold' not so foolish after all

Curtin University research has found tiny amounts of gold can be trapped inside pyrite, commonly known as "fool's gold," which would make it much more valuable than its name suggests.

Long COVID symptoms likely caused by Epstein-Barr virus reactivation

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reactivation resulting from the inflammatory response to coronavirus infection may be the cause of previously unexplained long COVID symptoms—such as fatigue, brain fog, and rashes—that occur in approximately 30% of patients after recovery from initial COVID-19 infection. The first evidence linking EBV reactivation to long COVID, as well as an analysis of long COVID prevalence, is outlined in a new long COVID study published in the journal Pathogens.

New possibilities for detecting Hawking radiation emitted by primordial black holes

While many physicists have predicted the existence of dark matter, a type of matter that does not absorb, reflect or emit light, so far no one has been able to observe it experimentally or determine its fundamental nature. Light primordial black holes (PBHs), black holes the formed in the early universe, are among the most promising dark matter candidates. However, the existence of these black holes has not yet been confirmed.

Researchers find 3,000-year-old shark attack victim

Newspapers regularly carry stories of terrifying shark attacks, but in a paper published today, Oxford-led researchers reveal their discovery of a 3,000-year-old victim—attacked by a shark in the Seto Inland Sea of the Japanese archipelago.

DNA from sediment reveals epic history of Denisova Cave

In a landmark study, scientists from Australia, Germany and Russia have used ancient DNA recovered from sediment samples from Denisova Cave in Siberia to reveal a detailed occupational history of this unique site by three distinct groups of ancient humans and a variety of animals over the past 300,000 years.

COVID-19 origins still a mystery: Study finds virus was 'highly human adapted'

Scientists using computer modeling to study SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, have discovered the virus is most ideally adapted to infect human cells—rather than bat or pangolin cells, again raising questions of its origin.

Space object with orbit stretching into the Oort cloud discovered

Astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein discovered a space object recently that has an orbit around the sun and also stretches into the Oort cloud—they have named it 2014 UN271. The researchers made the discovery while studying archival images collected for the Dark Energy Survey over the years 2014 to 2018. Since its discovery, entities such as the MMPL forum, the Minor Planet Center and JPL Solar System Dynamics have been tracking the object and have found that it will make its closest approach to Earth in 2031.

Cosmic dawn occurred 250 to 350 million years after Big Bang

Cosmic dawn, when stars formed for the first time, occurred 250 million to 350 million years after the beginning of the universe, according to a new study led by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the University of Cambridge.


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Science X Newsletter Sunday, Jun 27

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 27, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Amazon hydropower plant contributes significant greenhouse emissions: study

Researchers study potential new CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma

Backscatter breakthrough runs near-zero-power IoT communicators at 5G speeds everywhere

Optical tweezer technology tweaked to overcome dangers of heat

Elephants solve problems with personality

Sleeper cells: Newly discovered stem cell resting phase could put brain tumors to sleep

Muscle's smallest building blocks disappear after stroke

Loss of circadian regulation allows for increase in glucose production during lung cancer

Biologists discover that more intense predation in the tropics can limit marine invasions

Hydrofracking environmental problems not that different from conventional drilling

NASA completes additional tests to diagnose computer problem on Hubble space telescope

Tesla to 'recall' over 285,000 cars in China due to faulty software

March of the elephants: China's rogue herd spotlights habitat loss

Evidence on UFOs 'largely inconclusive': US intelligence report

Senate OKs bill to certify farm practices limiting emissions

Physics news

Optical tweezer technology tweaked to overcome dangers of heat

Three years ago, Arthur Ashkin won the Nobel Prize for inventing optical tweezers, which use light in the form of a high-powered laser beam to capture and manipulate particles. Despite being created decades ago, optical tweezers still lead to major breakthroughs and are widely used today to study biological systems.

Astronomy and Space news

NASA completes additional tests to diagnose computer problem on Hubble space telescope

NASA is continuing to diagnose a problem with the payload computer on the Hubble Space Telescope after completing another set of tests on June 23 and 24. The payload computer halted on June 13 and the spacecraft stopped collecting science data. The telescope itself and its science instruments remain in good health and are currently in a safe configuration.

Technology news

Backscatter breakthrough runs near-zero-power IoT communicators at 5G speeds everywhere

The promise of 5G Internet of Things (IoT) networks requires more scalable and robust communication systems—ones that deliver drastically higher data rates and lower power consumption per device.

Tesla to 'recall' over 285,000 cars in China due to faulty software

Electric car giant Tesla will "recall" over 285,000 cars from the Chinese market after an investigation found issues with its assisted driving software that could cause road collisions, a government regulator announced late Friday.

Unbroken: New soft electronics don't break, even when punctured

Want a smartphone that stretches, takes damage, and still doesn't miss a call?

Bangladesh scraps 10 coal-fired power plants

Bangladesh announced Sunday that it has scrapped at least 10 major coal-fired power plants as it seeks to scale up its power generation from renewable energy sources.

Volkswagen to stop selling combustion engines in Europe by 2035

Volkswagen said Sunday it plans to stop producing cars with internal combustion engines in Europe for its eponymous flagship brand between 2033 and 2035, as the Germany auto giant accelerates its drive towards electric vehicles.


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