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Fast radio bursts could help solve the mystery of the universe’s expansion

Fast radio bursts could help solve the mystery of the universe’s expansion

Astronomers have been arguing about the rate of the universe’s expansion for nearly a century. A new independent method to measure that rate could help cast the deciding vote.For the first time, astronomers calculated the Hubble constant — the rate at which the universe is expanding — from observations of cosmic flashes called fast radio bursts, or FRBs. While , the technique could mature into a powerful tool for nailing down the elusive Hubble constant, researchers report April 12 at arXiv.org.Ultimately, if the uncertainties in the new method can be reduced, it could help settle the...

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Apr 21
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The already tiny neutrino’s maximum possible mass has shrunk even further

The already tiny neutrino’s maximum possible mass has shrunk even further

To understand neutrinos, it pays to be small-minded.The subatomic particles are so lightweight, they’re almost massless. They’re a tiny fraction of the mass of the next lightest particle, the electron. But scientists still don’t know exactly how slight the particles are. A new estimate from the KATRIN experiment, located in Karlsruhe, Germany, further shrinks the maximum possible mass neutrinos could have.The puny particles have masses of , physicist Diana Parno reported April 19 at a virtual meeting of the American Physical Society. For comparison, electrons are more than 600,000 times as...

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Apr 21
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How the laws of physics constrain the size of alien raindrops

How the laws of physics constrain the size of alien raindrops

Whether they’re made of methane on Saturn’s moon Titan or iron on the exoplanet WASP 76b, alien raindrops behave similarly across the Milky Way. They are always close to the same size, regardless of the liquid they’re made of or the atmosphere they fall in, according to the first generalized physical model of alien rain.“You can get raindrops out of lots of things,” says planetary scientist Kaitlyn Loftus of Harvard University, who published for what happens to a falling raindrop after it has left a cloud in the April Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Previous studies have looked at...

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Apr 19
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50 years ago, scientists claimed marijuana threatened teens’ mental health

50 years ago, scientists claimed marijuana threatened teens’ mental health

The continuing battle over pot — , April 24,1971The White House Conference on Youth voted to legalize the sale of grass (with restrictions). On the same day, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article condemning the use of marijuana by the young.… The researchers conclude that marijuana smoking is particularly harmful to the adolescent. It adds unnecessary anxieties to the already disturbing problems of physical and psychological maturation.Fifty years after the recommendation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, at least 15 U.S. states have done so. In...

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Apr 20
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Neandertal DNA from cave mud shows two waves of migration across Eurasia

Neandertal DNA from cave mud shows two waves of migration across Eurasia

Neandertal DNA recovered from cave mud reveals that these ancient humans spread across Eurasia in two different waves.Analysis of suggests an early wave of Neandertals about 135,000 years ago may have been replaced by genetically and potentially anatomically distinct successors 30,000 years later, researchers report April 15 in Science. The timing of this later wave suggests potential links to climate and environmental shifts.By extracting genetic material from mud, “we can get human DNA from people who lived in a cave without having to find their remains, and we can learn interesting...

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Apr 15
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How researchers can keep birds safe as U.S. wind farms expand

How researchers can keep birds safe as U.S. wind farms expand

Wind energy is surging in the United States. In 2020, turbines generated about — roughly 50 times the share of wind-generated electricity in 2000 —according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While the growth is a positive step toward curbing climate change, scientists say, it could be bad news for birds.An estimated 140,000 to 500,000 birds die each year due to turbine collisions. Bird if the U.S. Department of Energy achieves its goal of expanding wind energy to 20 percent of the country’s electricity demand by 2030.To prevent avoidable deaths, some scientists are advocating...

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Apr 12
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Only 3 percent of Earth’s land hasn’t been marred by humans

Only 3 percent of Earth’s land hasn’t been marred by humans

The Serengeti looks largely like it did hundreds of years ago.Lions, hyenas and other top predators still stalk herds of wildebeests over a million strong, preventing them from eating too much vegetation. This diversity of trees and grasses support scores of other species, from vivid green-orange Fischer’s lovebirds to dung beetles. In turn, such species carry seeds or pollen across the plains, enabling plant reproduction. Humans are there too, but in relatively low densities. Overall, it’s a prime example of what biologists call an ecologically intact ecosystem: a bustling tangle of...

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Apr 15
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AI can predict which criminals may break laws again better than humans

AI can predict which criminals may break laws again better than humans

Subscribers, enter your e-mail address to access our archives.Science News is a nonprofit.Support us by subscribing now.Subscribers, enter your e-mail address to access the Science News archives.Not a subscriber?.

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February 15, 2020
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A record-breaking, oxygen-starved galaxy may be full of gigantic stars’ shrapnel

A record-breaking, oxygen-starved galaxy may be full of gigantic stars’ shrapnel

The most oxygen-poor star-forming galaxy ever found hints that the first galaxies to arise after the universe’s birth glittered with supermassive stars that left behind big black holes.Such galaxies are rare now because almost as soon as a galaxy initiates star formation, massive stars produce huge amounts of oxygen, which is the most abundant element in the cosmos after hydrogen and helium. Astronomers prize the few such galaxies found close to home because they offer a glimpse of what conditions were like , before stars had made much oxygen (SN: 8/7/19).The new galaxy’s oxygen-to-hydrogen...

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Apr 9
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This praying mantis inflates a strange pheromone gland to lure mates

This praying mantis inflates a strange pheromone gland to lure mates

Praying mantises — with their angular features, huge eyes and centaur posture — often seem a bit alien. But researchers have recently found one mantis species that takes this otherworldly quality to the next level: Females of this species have an inflatable pheromone gland that protrudes from the back of the abdomen like a green, Y-shaped balloon. This odd organ is unlike anything seen in mantises before, researchers online April 21 in the Journal of Orthoptera Research.In October 2017, herpetologist Frank Glaw was moving through the nighttime rainforest in Amazonian Peru at the Panguana...

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Apr 26
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