Week in Science (28 Feb – 6 Mar 2021)

Science News related to Designing Soft Materials, World’s Coldest Plasma, Observing Space Hurricane, Filming A 3D Video of a Virus, Environmentally Friendly Fireworks, Soft Robots Turning Rigid on Demand, Watching Anti-Cancer Drug Release from DNA Nanostructures, Ultralow Power Devices, Detecting Exoplanets and Diseases, Gravitomagnetism Doing Away with Dark Matter, High-Energy Particles Located in The Sun, 3D-Printed Organs

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.

*Cover picture credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO*

1. Designing Soft Materials that Mimic Biological Functions

Source: Northwestern University 1 Mar 2021

Researchers have developed a theoretical model to design soft materials that demonstrate autonomous oscillating properties that mimic biological functions. The work could advance the design of responsive materials used to deliver therapeutics as well as for robot-like soft materials that operate autonomously.

Original written by: Alex Gerage

2. Bottling the World’s Coldest Plasma

Source: Rice University 1 Mar 2021

Physicists have discovered a way to trap the world’s coldest plasma in a magnetic bottle, a technological achievement that could advance research into clean energy, space weather, and astrophysics. Using laser-cooled strontium, the researchers made a plasma about 1 degree above absolute zero, or approximately -272 degrees Celsius, and trapped it briefly with forces from surrounding magnets.

Original written by: Jade Boyd

3. Space Hurricane Observed for The First Time

Source: University of Reading 1 Mar 2021

The first observations of a space hurricane have been revealed in Earth’s upper atmosphere, confirming their existence and shedding new light on the relationship between planets and space. The unprecedented observations, made by satellites in August 2014, were only uncovered during retrospective analysis by scientists that confirmed the hurricane and offered clues about its formation.

4. Filming A 3D Video of a Virus with Instantaneous Light And AI

Source: Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) 3 Mar 2021

Combining the X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) light with AI, an international research team has succeeded in filming and restoring the 3D structure of nanoparticles that share structural similarities with viruses. With the fear of a new pandemic growing around the world due to COVID-19, this discovery is attracting the attention among academic circles for imaging the structure of the virus with both high accuracy and speed.

5. How ‘Green’ Are Environmentally Friendly Fireworks?

Source: American Chemical Society 3 Mar 2021

Fireworks are used in celebrations around the world, including Independence Day in the U.S., the Lantern Festival in China, and the Diwali Festival in India. However, the popular pyrotechnic displays emit large amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, sometimes causing severe air pollution. Now, researchers have estimated that, although so-called environmentally friendly fireworks emit 15–65% less particulate matter than traditional fireworks, they still significantly deteriorate air quality.

6. Helping Soft Robots Turn Rigid on Demand

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3 Mar 2021

Researchers have developed a concept for a soft-bodied robot that can turn rigid on demand. The approach could enable a new generation of robots that combine the strength and precision of rigid robots with the fluidity and safety of soft ones.

Original written by: Daniel Ackerman

7. Researchers Watch Anti-Cancer Drug Release from DNA Nanostructures in Real-Time

Source: Aalto University 3 Mar 2021

A team of researchers has found a way to study the endonuclease-driven digestion of drug-loaded DNA nanostructures in real-time. The group monitored DNA degradation and the subsequent anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) release from the DNA structures. The drug bonds between DNA base pairs.

8. “Egg Carton” Quantum Dot Array Could Lead to Ultralow Power Devices

Source: University of Michigan 3 Mar 2021

A new path toward sending and receiving information with single photons of light has been discovered by an international team of researchers. Their experiment demonstrated the possibility of using an effect known as nonlinearity to modify and detect extremely weak light signals, taking advantage of distinct changes to a quantum system to advance next generation computing.

Original written by: Kate McAlpine

9. New Microcomb Could Detect Exoplanets and Diseases

Source: Chalmers University of Technology 4 Mar 2021

Tiny photonic devices could be used to find new exoplanets, monitor our health, and make the internet more energy efficient. Researchers now present a game changing microcomb that could bring advanced applications closer to reality. The new microcomb is a coherent, tunable, and reproducible device with up to ten times higher net conversion efficiency than the current state of the art.

10. Factoring in Gravitomagnetism Could Do Away with Dark Matter

Source: Springer 4 Mar 2021

Observations of galactic rotation curves give one of the strongest lines of evidence pointing towards the existence of dark matter, a non-baryonic form of matter that makes up an estimated 85% of the matter in the observable Universe. Current assessments of galactic rotation curves are based upon a framework of Newtonian accounts of gravity, a new paper suggests that if this is substituted with a general relativity-based model, the need to recourse to dark matter is relieved, replaced by the effects of gravitomagnetism.

11. Source of Hazardous High-Energy Particles Located in The Sun

Source: University College London 4 Mar 2021

In the new study, researchers analyzed the composition of solar energetic particles heading towards Earth and found they had the same “fingerprint” as plasma located low in the Sun’s corona, close to the middle region of the Sun’s atmosphere, the chromosphere. The source of potentially hazardous solar particles, released from the Sun at high speed during storms in its outer atmosphere, has been located for the first time by the researchers.

12. Rapid 3D Printing Method Moves Toward 3D-Printed Organs

Source: University at Buffalo 5 Mar 2021

A research team has come up with a 3D printing method called stereolithography and jelly-like materials known as hydrogels to develop a 3D printing method that is 10-50 times faster than the industry standard. The researchers say this is progress toward 3D-printed human tissue and organs — biotechnology that could eventually save countless lives lost due to the shortage of donor organs.

Original written by: Cory Nealon

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