Sunday Science (11 - 17 Oct 2020)

News related to Engineering from Wasp Venom, Last Moments before a Black Hole, Stellar Flares and Exoplanets, Transport of Stored Light, Impact on Global CO2 Emissions, Swine Coronavirus, Prenatal Cannabis Exposure, Self-Domesticated Monkeys, NASA’s James Webb Telescope, Coronavirus’ Evolutionary Edge, New World Record: Zeptoseconds, Humanity’s Geologic Footprint


Note: None of the news bits given here are written 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. Scientists Engineer Bacteria-Killing Molecules from Wasp Venom

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 12 Oct 2020

A team has engineered powerful new antimicrobial molecules from toxic proteins found in wasp venom. The team hopes to develop the molecules into new bacteria-killing drugs, an important advancement considering increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can cause illness such as sepsis and tuberculosis.

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2. Death by Spaghettification: ESO Telescopes Record Last Moments of Star Devoured by a Black Hole

Source: ESO 12 Oct 2020

Using telescopes from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and other organisations around the world, astronomers have spotted a rare blast of light from a star being ripped apart by a supermassive black hole. The phenomenon, known as a tidal disruption event, is the closest such flare recorded to date at just over 215 million light-years from Earth, and has been studied in unprecedented detail.

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3. Studying the Sun as a Star to Understand Stellar Flares and Exoplanets

Source: National Institutes of Natural Sciences 12 Oct 2020

New research shows that sunspots and other active regions can change the overall solar emissions. The sunspots cause some emissions to dim and others to brighten; the timing of the changes also varies between different types of emissions. This knowledge will help astronomers characterize the conditions of stars, which has important implications for finding exoplanets around those stars.

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4. Physicists Successfully Carry Out the Controlled Transport of Stored Light

Source: Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz 13 Oct 2020

A team of physicists has successfully transported light stored in a quantum memory over a distance of 1.2 millimeters. They have demonstrated that the controlled transport process and its dynamics has only little impact on the properties of the stored light. The researchers used ultra-cold rubidium-87 atoms as a storage medium for the light as to achieve a high level of storage efficiency and a long lifetime.

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5. Biggest CO2 Drop: Real-Time Data Shows Covid-19’s Massive Impact on Global Emissions

Source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) 14 Oct 2020

An international team of researchers has found that in the first six months of this year, 8.8 percent less carbon dioxide was emitted than in the same period in 2019 – a total decrease of 1551 million tonnes. The groundbreaking study not only offers a much more precise look at COVID-19’s impact on global energy consumption than previous analyses. It also suggests what fundamental steps could be taken to stabilize the global climate in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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6. Swine Coronavirus Shows Potential to Spread to Humans

Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 14 Oct 2020

New research suggests that a strain of coronavirus that has recently alarmed the swine industry has the potential to spread to humans as well. The coronavirus strain, known as swine acute diarrhoea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV), emerged from bats and has infected swine herds throughout China since it was first discovered in 2016.

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7. Prenatal Cannabis Exposure Linked to Cognitive Deficits, Altered Behavior

Source: Washington State University 14 Oct 2020

Regular cannabis exposure in rats during pregnancy may cause their offspring to have long-term cognitive deficiencies, asocial behavior, and anxiety later in adulthood. That’s according to a new study that provides a rare look at the effects of using cannabis during pregnancy.

Original written by: Josh Babcock

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8. Study Suggests That Monkeys, Like Humans, May Have ‘Self-Domesticated’

Source: Princeton University 15 Oct 2020

Scientists determined that changing an infant monkey's verbal development also changed a physical marker of domesticity: a patch of white fur on its forehead. This is the first study linking the degree of a social trait with the size of a physical sign of domestication, in any species.

Original written by: Liz Fuller-Wright

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9. NASA’s James Webb Telescopes Will Reveal Hidden Galaxies

Source: University of Melbourne 15 Oct 2020

Powerful lights called ‘quasars' are the brightest objects in the universe. Powered by supermassive black holes up to a trillion times the mass of our Sun, they outshine entire galaxies of billions of stars. Simulations led by Science PhD candidate, Madeline Marshall, show that while even NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope can’t see galaxies currently hidden by these quasars, the James Webb Telescope will be able to get past the glare.

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10. 'Silent' Mutations Gave the Coronavirus an Evolutionary Edge

Source: Duke University 15 Oct 2020

Researchers have identified a number of “silent” mutations in the roughly 30,000 letters of the virus’s genetic code that helped it thrive once it made the leap -- and possibly helped set the stage for the global pandemic. The subtle changes involved how the virus folded its RNA molecules within human cells.

Original written by: Robin A. Smith

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11. Zeptoseconds: New World Record in Short Time Measurement

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt 16 Oct 2020

In the global race to measure ever shorter time spans, physicists have now taken the lead: together with colleagues at the accelerator facility DESY in Hamburg and the Fritz-Haber-Institute in Berlin, they have measured a process that lies within the realm of zeptoseconds for the first time: the propagation of light within a molecule. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second (10^-21 seconds).

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12. Unprecedented Energy Use Since 1950 Has Transformed Our Planetary Environment and Humanity’s Geologic Footprint

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder 16 Oct 2020

A new study makes clear the extraordinary speed and scale of increases in energy use, economic productivity and global population that have pushed the Earth towards a new geological epoch, known as the Anthropocene. Distinct physical, chemical and biological changes to Earth’s rock layers began around the year 1950, the research found.

Original written by: Kelsey Simpkins

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