Sunday Science (10 – 16 Jan 2021)

Science News related to Engineers Creating “Living Materials”, Qubit – Storage & Fast Calculation Modes, Making Natural Gas Burn Cleaner, Quasar Setting A New Distance Record, Harnessing Energy from Black Holes, Temperature Tipping Point in Next 20 To 30 Years, Doubling the Number of Known Gravitational Lenses, Giant Map of The Sky, Conductive Nature in Crystal Structures, Improving Environmental Observations in The Indian Ocean

Note: None of the news bits (and cover picture) given here are written/owned by NewAnced's authors. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. Content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

1. Inspired by Kombucha Tea, Engineers Create “Living Materials”

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 11 Jan 2021

Engineers have developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mixture of bacteria and yeast similar to the “kombucha mother” used to ferment tea. Using this mixture, also called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), the researchers were able to produce cellulose embedded with enzymes that can perform a variety of functions, such as sensing environmental pollutants.

Original written by: Anne Trafton

2. Electrically Switchable Qubit Can Tune Between Storage and Fast Calculation Modes

Source: University of Basel 11 Jan 2021

To perform calculations, quantum computers need qubits to act as elementary building blocks that process and store information. Now, physicists have produced a new type of qubit that can be switched from a stable idle mode to a fast calculation mode. The concept would also allow a large number of qubits to be combined into a powerful quantum computer, as researchers have reported.

3. ‘Swiss Army Knife’ Catalyst Can Make Natural Gas Burn Cleaner

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago 11 Jan 2021

Researchers have developed a cutting edge catalyst made up of 10 different elements – each of which on its own has the ability to reduce the combustion temperature of methane – plus oxygen. This unique catalyst can bring the combustion temperature of methane down by about half – from above 1400 degrees Kelvin down to 600 to 700 degrees Kelvin.

Original written by: Sharon Parmet

4. Quasar Discovery Sets New Distance Record

Source: National Radio Astronomy Observatory 12 Jan 2021

An international team of astronomers has discovered the most distant quasar yet found — a cosmic monster more than 13 billion light-years from Earth powered by a supermassive black hole more than 1.6 billion times more massive than the Sun and more than 1,000 times brighter than our entire Milky Way Galaxy.

5. Could We Harness Energy from Black Holes?

Source: Columbia University 13 Jan 2021

A study found a new way to extract energy from black holes by breaking and rejoining magnetic field lines near the event horizon, the point from which nothing, not even light, can escape the black hole’s gravitational pull.

6. Earth to Reach Temperature Tipping Point in Next 20 To 30 Years

Source: Northern Arizona University 13 Jan 2021

Earth’s ability to absorb nearly a third of human-caused carbon emissions through plants could be halved within the next two decades at the current rate of warming, according to a new study. Using more than two decades of data from measurement towers in every major biome across the globe, the team identified a critical temperature tipping point beyond which plants’ ability to capture and store atmospheric carbon—a cumulative effect referred to as the “land carbon sink”—decreases as temperatures continue to rise.

7. Doubling the Number of Known Gravitational Lenses

Source: Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) 13 Jan 2021

Data from the DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) Legacy Imaging Surveys have revealed over 1200 new gravitational lenses, approximately doubling the number of known lenses. Discovered using machine learning trained on real data, these warped and stretched images of distant galaxies provide astronomers with a flood of new targets with which to measure fundamental properties of the Universe such as the Hubble constant, which describes the expanding Universe.

8. Giant Map of the Sky Sets Stage for Ambitious DESI Survey

Source: Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) 13 Jan 2021

Astronomers using images from Kitt Peak National Observatory and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory have created the largest ever map of the sky, comprising over a billion galaxies. The ninth and final data release from the ambitious DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys sets the stage for a ground-breaking 5-year survey with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which aims to provide new insights into the nature of dark energy.

9. Conductive Nature in Crystal Structures Revealed at Magnification Of 10 Million Times

Source: University of Minnesota 15 Jan 2021

In groundbreaking materials research, a team has made a discovery that blends the best of two sought-after qualities for touchscreens and smart windows—transparency and conductivity. The researchers are the first to observe metallic lines in a perovskite crystal.

Perovskites abound in the Earth’s center, and barium stannate (BaSnO3) is one such crystal. However, it has not been studied extensively for metallic properties because of the prevalence of more conductive materials on the planet like metals or semiconductors. The finding was made using advanced transmission electron microscopy (TEM), a technique that can form images with magnifications of up to 10 million.

10. Scientists Offer Road Map to Improve Environmental Observations in The Indian Ocean

Source: University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science 15 Jan 2021

A group of more than 60 scientists has provided recommendations to improve the Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS), a basin-wide monitoring system to better understand the impacts of human-caused climate change in a region that has been warming faster than any other ocean. The group provides a road map for an enhanced IndOOS to better meet the scientific and societal needs for more reliable environmental forecasts in the next decade.

Original written by: Diana Udel

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