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  • V404 Cygni: Huge rings around a black hole
    on August 5, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    This image features a spectacular set of rings around a black hole, captured using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. The X-ray images of the giant rings reveal information about dust located in our galaxy, using a similar principle to the X-rays performed in doctor’s offices and airports.

  • Decades of research bring quantum dots to brink of widespread use
    on August 5, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    A new article in Science magazine gives an overview of almost three decades of research into colloidal quantum dots, assesses the technological progress for these nanometer-sized specs of semiconductor matter, and weighs the remaining challenges on the path to widespread commercialization for this promising technology with applications in everything from TVs to highly efficient sunlight collectors.

  • Survey suggests climate change has reduced the presence of invasive Argentine ants
    on August 5, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    In 1993, Stanford University biology professor Deborah Gordon and her first graduate student, Katy Human, began a survey of ants at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Nearly 30 years, four more graduate students and scores of volunteers later, that survey continues on—and has recently yielded a surprising result.

  • Massive ancient lake across prairies emptied quickly enough to set off an ice age, study suggests
    on August 5, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    A flood of epic proportions drained at a rate of more than 800 Olympic swimming pools per second from a glacial lake that spanned the Prairie provinces more than 12,000 years ago, according to a University of Alberta-led study.

  • Now how did that get up there? New study sheds light on development and evolution of dolphin, whale blowholes
    on August 5, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    Modern cetaceans—which include dolphins, whales and porpoises—are well adapted for aquatic life. They have blubber to insulate and fins to propel and steer. Today’s cetaceans also sport a unique type of nasal passage: It rises at an angle relative to the roof of the mouth—or palate—and exits at the top of the head as a blowhole.

  • Venom has contributed to the species diversity of insects and fishes, new study reveals
    on August 5, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    The extraordinary diversity of insects and fishes, the most species-rich invertebrate and vertebrate groups in the animal kingdom, is partly due to the origin of venom, a new study of their evolution has revealed.

  • This quantum crystal could be a new dark matter sensor
    on August 5, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have linked together, or “entangled,” the mechanical motion and electronic properties of a tiny blue crystal, giving it a quantum edge in measuring electric fields with record sensitivity that may enhance understanding of the universe.

  • Leaping squirrels! Parkour is one of their many feats of agility
    on August 5, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Videos of squirrels leaping from bendy branches across impossibly large gaps, parkouring off walls, scrambling to recover from tricky landings.

  • Corn’s genetic diversity on display in new genome study
    on August 5, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    The newly assembled genomes of 26 different genetic lines of corn illustrate the crop’s rich genetic diversity and could pave the way for a better understanding of what genetic mechanisms account for crop traits prized by farmers.

  • New process yields more, purer RNA at a fraction of the cost
    on August 5, 2021 at 5:07 pm

    Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently unveiled their discovery of a new process for making RNA. The resulting RNA is purer, more copious and likely to be more cost-effective than any previous process could manage. This new technique removes the largest stumbling block on the path to next-generation RNA therapeutic drugs.

  • Dryer, warmer night air is making some Western wildfires more active at night
    on August 5, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    Firefighters have reported that Western wildfires are starting earlier in the morning and dying down later at night, hampering their ability to recover and regroup before the next day’s flareup.

  • Need to change careers? This AI tool can help
    on August 5, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Car manufacturing workers, long haul airline pilots, coal workers, shop assistants—many employees are forced to undertake the difficult and sometimes distressing challenge of finding a new occupation quickly due to technological and economic change, or crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Calling through the ‘DNA wire’
    on August 5, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    Proteins can communicate through DNA, conducting a long-distance dialog that serves as a kind of genetic “switch,” according to Weizmann Institute of Science researchers. They found that the binding of proteins to one site of a DNA molecule can physically affect another binding site at a distant location, and that this “peer effect” activates certain genes. This effect had previously been observed in artificial systems, but the Weizmann study is the first to show it takes place in the DNA of living organisms.

  • Using two CRISPR enzymes, a COVID diagnostic in only 20 minutes
    on August 5, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    Frequent, rapid testing for COVID-19 is critical to controlling the spread of outbreaks, especially as new, more transmissible variants emerge.

  • Keeping Earth cool: Is the 1.5C target ‘mission impossible’?
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    Can humanity drag down greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to prevent Earth’s surface from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels?

  • The first real snapshot of algal bloom toxins in Lake Erie
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    Remote-sensing technology produces detailed images of the size and density of the harmful algal bloom (HAB) in Lake Erie’s western basin each year, but determining the bloom’s toxicity relies on research that—literally—tests the waters.

  • Women participate less at conferences, even with gender-balanced delegates
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Women are less likely to participate at medical and scientific conferences, yet simple interventions could have a big impact, a new study has found.

  • Ocean current system seems to be approaching a tipping point
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) may have been losing stability in the course of the last century, a new study by Niklas Boers, published in Nature Climate Change, suggests. The finding is worrying as well as a surprise. The AMOC, to which also the Gulf stream belongs, is responsible for the relatively mild temperatures in Europe and influences weather systems worldwide. A collapse of this ocean current system, which has so far not been considered likely under the current levels of global warming will therefore have severe consequences on global and especially European weather and climate. The study is part of the European TiPES project, coordinated by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.

  • New method opens the door to efficient genome writing in bacteria
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Biological engineers at MIT have devised a new way to efficiently edit bacterial genomes and program memories into bacterial cells by rewriting their DNA. Using this approach, various forms of spatial and temporal information can be permanently stored for generations and retrieved by sequencing the cells’ DNA.

  • Scientists mail freeze-dried mouse sperm on a postcard
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Scientists no longer have to worry about their bottles of mouse sperm breaking in transit. Researchers in Japan have developed a way to freeze dry sperm on a plastic sheet in weighing paper so that samples can withstand being mailed via postcard. This method allows for mouse sperm to be transported easily, inexpensively, and without the risk of glass cases breaking. The paper appears August 5th in the journal iScience.

  • Food or sex? Fruit flies give insight into decision-making
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Individuals are likely to prioritize food over sex after being deprived of both, according to researchers at the University of Birmingham, who studied this behavioral conflict in fruit flies.

  • Crop farmers face new disease pressures as climate changes
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Climate change will increase the burden of crop diseases in some parts of the world and reduce it in others, new research suggests.

  • Scientists ID enzyme for making key industrial chemical in plants
    on August 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Scientists studying the biochemistry of plant cell walls have identified an enzyme that could turn woody poplar trees into a source for producing a major industrial chemical. The research, just published in Nature Plants, could lead to a new sustainable pathway for making “p-hydroxybenzoic acid,” a chemical building block currently derived from fossil fuels, in plant biomass.

  • What lies beneath the far side of the moon?
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    A new technique for processing lunar radar data has allowed scientists to see what lies beneath the surface of the moon in the clearest ever detail.

  • Slow slips offer insights into earthquakes
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Significant earthquakes, from gentle shaking to devastating tremors, are hazards caused by a sudden release of stress that has built up in geological faults. More subtle events called slow slips are attracting increasing attention as nonshaky versions of the dramatic seismic fractures of the largest earthquakes.

  • Solving solar puzzle could help save Earth from planet-wide blackouts
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Could solar storms knock out the global internet? Yes, but we don’t know when or how it could happen. Mathematician Dr. Geoffrey Vasil has proposed a new understanding of the Sun’s convection zone to help.

  • How a single catalyst can start turning carbon dioxide into fuel in two ways
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Virtually all chemical and fuel production relies on catalysts, which accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed in the process. Most of these reactions take place in huge reactor vessels and may require high temperatures and pressures.

  • First nationwide ultrafine particle study paves the way for understanding health effects
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    It is widely known that air quality contributes to health conditions thanks to nationwide studies of particulate matter (PM). However, there is growing evidence that the most toxic particles are ultrafine particles (UFP), those smaller than 1/50th the diameter of a human hair. Studies on the health effects of ultrafine particles have been inconclusive and inconsistent due to the lack of a national-scale UFP study, but a team led by Carnegie Mellon University professors Albert Presto and Allen Robinson, postdoctoral researcher Provat Saha, and collaborators from the University of Washington and Virginia Tech, worked to change that.

  • Surprising insights into the world’s farthest-migrating species
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    The Arctic tern—which has the world record for the longest annual migration—uses just a few select routes, a key finding that could help efforts to conserve the species, according to a new University of British Columbia study. 

  • Sticky toes unlock life in the trees
    on August 5, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Many lizards are phenomenal climbers. Their sharp, curved claws are ideal for clinging to tree trunks, rocks and other rough surfaces. However, in the precarious world of tree tops—filled with slippery leaves and unstable branches—three peculiar groups of lizards possess a remarkable evolutionary accessory: sticky pads on their fingers and toes.