October 15, 2018

    The two moons of Mars could be pieces of the planet itself

    Space | Oct 05, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Phobos and Deimos, the moons of Mars, could be pieces ripped away from the planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems/Texas A&M Univ.
    The two moons of Mars could be pieces of the planet itself - space science news headlines

    A new study about the origin of the two Martian moons contradicts previous long-lasting theories claiming that Phobos and Deimos, were asteroids captured in Mars’ gravitational pull.

    According to the new research study, the moons are made up of pieces of planet Mars itself. Most likely they were blasted off of Mars at some point in the history of the planet.

    The conclusion was based on comparing the spectral properties of the Tagish Lake meteorite (coming from the asteroid belt) with those of the Martian moons. This hypothesis is similar to the current theories about the origin of the Earth’s moon.

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysical Research


    New system can spot fake news at the source

    Technology | Oct 04, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Fake news could be stopped at the origin with this new algorithm
    New system can spot fake news at the source - science news

    Detecting fake news is not an easy task, and many companies invest millions in this direction.

    Now, researchers from MIT have developed a new approach, based on machine learning, to identify fake news right at the source. The system automatically collects data about different websites and after analyzing about 150 articles it can reliably estimate whether a news source is trustable.

    The system is still in development however, it helped already establish a database of 1,000 news sources, annotated with factuality and bias scores, that is the world’s largest database of its kind.

    Read the full story: MIT


    Pseudo-embryos from stem cells created in the lab

    Life | Oct 04, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Embryos created from stem cells could open new possibilities for developmental biology. Seven-day old gastruloid. Credit: Mehmet Girgin, EPFL
    Pseud-embryos from stem cells created in the lab - science news
    A new research study reports that mouse stem cells have the ability to produce pseudo-embryos, similar in many aspects to real embryos of 6 to 10 days.

    The study showed that the three main embryonic axes were formed using around 300 stem cells, according to a gene expression program similar to that of normal embryos.

    This new approach has great potential for the study of the early stages of development in mammals and could one day replace the use of real embryos in research.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Nature


    The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for evolution in a test tube

    Technology | Oct 04, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, and Sir Gregory P. Winter the 2018 laureates. Credit: Niklas Elmehed, Nobel Media
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded for evolution in a test tube - daily science news headlines

    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances H. Arnold from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA, George P. Smith from the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA and Sir Gregory P. Winter from MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.

    Frances H. Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes and he received half of the award. George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter shared the other half for developing and perfecting a method to evolve new proteins using a phage system.

    They have used the principles of evolution to produce new molecules in a process called directed evolution. Their work allowed production of new enzymes and proteins with particular properties that are now used in many applications, from research and medicine to fuel production.

    Read the full story: Nobel Prize


    Genetics do not contribute much to forming a social society

    Life | Oct 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Studies on Lasioglossum baleicum, or sweat bee, revealed the importance of cooperation to increase fitness. Image: Norihiro Yagi
    Genetics do not contribute much to forming a social society - life science news

    Research in sweat bees (Lasioglossum baleicum) revealed that social behavior is relatively independent of genetic similarities between the individuals. Fitness, i.e. an organism’s reproductive success and propagation of its genes, is rather determined by cooperative behavior. This finding contradicts an earlier theory that stated that forming of social groups is determined by genetic relationships between individuals. Sweat bees can live both in groups with many female workers and a single queen, or as individual mothers. Individual females in social nests had a higher fitness than single mothers, and 92% of this difference could be attributed to cooperative behavior while living in a group, and only 8% to genetics. Thus, this study helps to better understand the evolution of living together in social groups, including in humans.

    Read the full story: Hokkaido University
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Evidence for a moon outside our solar system

    Space | Oct 04, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Artist's impression of the exoplanet Kepler-1625b with the candidate exomoon orbiting it. Image: Dan Durda
    Evidence for a moon outside our solar system - space science news

    For the first time, astronomers have obtained compelling evidence for the existence of an “exomoon”, a moon outside our solar system. It is orbiting the planet Keppler 1625b, and is unusual because of its big size, roughly that of the planet Neptune. Unlike exoplanets, exomoons have not been observed until today, and even the evidence obtained in the current study needs further validation. If confirmed, the finding of the exomoon could shed light on the development of planetary systems, and on the question of how moons are formed around planets.

    Read the full story: Columbia University New York
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Circular solar energy storing and releasing system established

    Technology | Oct 03, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The principle of the circular solar energy storing and releasing system. Image: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology
    Circular solar energy storing and releasing system established - green technology science news

    Scientists have developed a system that can store solar energy for later use. Importantly, this system is circular, completely free of emissions, and does not damage the molecules that store the energy. This molecule is made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, and changes into an energy-rich isomer when hit by sunlight. Energy can be released with the aid of a catalyst that acts as a filter through which liquid flows, and creates a reaction which warms the liquid by 63 centigrades. The molecule then changes back to its energy-free form. Applications are endless, for instance storing sun energy in the summer, and releasing it in the winter for domestic heating. The developers expect that the new technology could be in commercial use within ten years.

    Read the full story: Chalmers University of Technology
    Scientific publication: Energy & Environmental Science


    Resveratrol, found in grapes, protects against lung cancer

    Health | Oct 03, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Resveratrol is found in grapes and, at least in mice, has been found to protect against lung cancer
    Resveratrol, found in grapes, protects against lung cancer - health science news

    Scientists have created a new formula for the application of resveratrol to protect against lung cancer. Resveratrol, which is found in grapes and red wine, was found to be most effective when applied intranasally in mice that had been exposed to a carcinogenic substance from cigarette smoke. The amount of resveratrol that reached the lungs was 22 times higher when compared with oral intake that is without effect. As resveratrol is already used in food supplements, no further toxicity studies are needed prior to commercialization as a preventive treatment of lung cancer.

    Read the full story: University of Geneva
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Preindustrial fires cooled the Earth

    Earth | Oct 03, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Burning fires release aerosols in the atmosphere that reflect sunlight and cool the Earth
    Preindustrial fires cooled the Earth - global warming science news

    By analyzing fire proxy records such as ice cores, charcoal depositions in lake and marine sediments, and scarring in tree rings, researchers have found that fires were much more common before the industrial revolution than they are now. As fire burns, tiny particles known as aerosols are released in the atmosphere, and reflect sunlight back into space. Therefore, fires cool down climate, and counterbalance the total effect that human industrial activity has on global warming and climate change. Thus, preindustrial fire has to be factored in to better estimate the magnitude of global warming by manmade forms of combustion.

    Read the full story: Cornell University
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    How do baby giraffes get their spots? From their mothers!

    Life | Oct 03, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    The pattern of spots is transmitted from mother giraffes to their babies
    How do baby giraffes get their spots? From their mothers! - science news headlines - animals

    The spotted pattern of a giraffe is complex and important, ensuring efficient camouflage and protection from predators. But what determines the shape of the spots?

    A new study showed that their shape is, at least in part, inhered. More precisely, most features are transmitted from mothers to calves.

    Moreover, the researchers discovered that giraffes with larger spots have increased chances of survival, thus making a link between the pattern and the efficacy of the camouflage.

    Read the full story: University of Zurich
    Scientific publication: Peer J - Life and Environment


    Unexpected protectors of the oceans: the robot jellyfish

    Earth | Oct 02, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    3D printed robot jellyfish soon to patrol the oceans. Credit: Frame et al, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
    Unexpected protectors of the oceans: the robot jellyfish - science news headlines

    Scientists came up with an original solution for monitoring the fragile ecosystems of the world’s oceans: a robotic jellyfish.

    A soft robot like this can easily explore and monitor difficult environments like a coral reef. To increase its performance, the robot was shaped after the shape of the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) during the larvae stage of its life cycle.

    The new device could open a new era of oceanography and may soon play an important role in environmental actions and ecology.

    Read the full story: Florida Atlantic University
    Scientific publication: Bioinspiration & Biomimetics


    Single atoms can break one of the strongest chemical bonds

    Technology | Oct 02, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Physicists discovered and imaged a single-atom catalyst that breaks carbon-fluorine bonds. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Single atoms can break one of the strongest chemical bonds - science news headlines in brief

    One of the strongest chemical bounds know is the carbon-fluorine bond. An international team of scientists just discovered that this bound can be broken using single atoms of platinum.

    The platinum atoms work as an efficient catalyst for breaking the carbon-fluorine bonds. Using an advanced transmission electron microscope (TEM) scientists were able to visualize their new catalyst and assess its performance.

    The discovery is an important step for environmental decontamination and chemical synthesis.

    Read the full story: Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: ACS Catalysis


    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for revolutionary ways of manipulating light

    Technology | Oct 02, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Laser beams and optical tweezers win the Nobel in 2018. Credit: NobelPrize.org
    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for revolutionary ways of manipulating light - short science news headlines - Nobel Prize

    This year, three scientist share the Nobel Prize in Physics: Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N.J., Gérard Mourou of École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, and Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Canada.

    They discovered groundbreaking methods to manipulate light. Ashkin invented the optical tweezers, a tool that uses beams of light to capture and move small particles, including viruses and living cells.

    Mourou and Strickland invented a way to compress light into extremely short and intense pulses (chirped pulse amplification).

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Nobel Prize


    Making wild groundcherry suitable for agriculture by DNA editing

    Life | Oct 02, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Ground cherries might become easier to grow after gene editing
    Making wild groundcherry suitable for agriculture by DNA editing - life science news

    To make wild groundcherry suitable for agriculture, scientists have edited its genome with the CRISPR technique to incorporate some characteristics of tomatoes. This makes the groundcherry grow in a more “organized” way so that they are easier to culture, and the plants produce more fruit. While still other changes have to be made, especially preventing the dropping of fruit to the ground before ripening, researchers think that groundcherries will soon be the next superfood, full with vitamin B and C, antioxidants, and other healthy molecules, and that groundcherries will be cultured on a larger scale in the US in the future.

    Read the full story: Boyce Thompson Institute
    Scientific publication: Nature Plants


    The night sky is glowing, but you cannot see it

    Space | Oct 02, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Glowing hydrogen (blue) as detected with the MUSE spectrograph around galaxies. Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, ESO/ Lutz Wisotzki et al.
    The night sky is glowing, but you cannot see it - space science news

    With the aid of the MUSE spectrograph on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have observed abundant Lyman-alpha emission (a spectral line of hydrogen) around distant galaxies. This observation was only possible because of improved sensitivity of the spectrograph to detect dim hydrogen glowing. The hydrogen clouds, the first building blocks of the universe, were observed in the constellation of Fornax, that has been mapped by the Hubble telescope in 2004. Extrapolation of the data indicate that most of the night sky is invisibly aglow.

    Read the full story: European Southern Observatory (ESO)
    Scientific publication: Nature


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