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Changing how we make solar panels could reduce their carbon emissions

Changing how we make solar panels could reduce their carbon emissions

×Changing the way we make could reduce their carbon footprint, providing a boost to green energy.Although solar panels are a source of renewable energy, making them has an environmental impact. Fengqi You at Cornell University in New York and his colleagues have analysed the overall environmental impact of two types of new solar panels, comparing these against panels made with crystalline silicon wafers – the current industry standard.The team found that a new type of made from two layers of a mineral called perovskite requires a smaller total and results in fewer carbon emissions. The...

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Donna Lu
4d ago
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Skeletons reveal wealth gap in Europe began to open 6600 years ago

Skeletons reveal wealth gap in Europe began to open 6600 years ago

×A wealth gap may have existed far earlier than we thought, providing insight into the lives of some of .Chelsea Budd at Umeå University in Sweden and her colleagues analysed the 6600-year-old grave sites of the Osłonki community in Poland, to try to determine whether wealth inequality existed in these ancient societies.The team first found that a quarter of the population was . But this doesn’t necessarily mean that these people were richer during their lifetimes.Advertisement“The items could simply have been a performance by the surviving family members,” says Budd. “It could be used to...

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Jason Arunn Murugesu
4d ago
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Extreme rising seas could wipe out assets worth $14 trillion by 2100

Extreme rising seas could wipe out assets worth $14 trillion by 2100

×Coastal floods wrought by rising seas could affect tens of millions more people and cause trillions of dollars of harm by the end of the century if the world fails to prevent the worst-case climate change scenario, according to a new analysis.The area of land globally at risk from coastal flooding could increase by almost half by 2100 as sea level rises put more homes, roads and other infrastructure in the firing line. Asia and north-west Europe are anticipated to be hit hardest.However, this worst-case scenario assumes humanity pumps out high levels of carbon dioxide, implements no flood...

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Adam Vaughan
Aug 1
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Lyme disease vaccine found to be safe and effective in clinical trial

Lyme disease vaccine found to be safe and effective in clinical trial

×A vaccine against Lyme disease has been shown to be safe and effective in a clinical trial and could be available by 2025.Tens of thousands of people in the US and Europe are diagnosed each year with Lyme disease, which is transmitted by tick bites and can cause lifelong health problems like joint and nerve pain if it isn’t treated early.French company Valneva has developed a vaccine that works by stopping Lyme-causing bacteria in ticks from passing into people’s bloodstreams when the ticks bite. It does this …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account...

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Alice Klein
Aug 1
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Why old school technology could shape the future of digital computing

Why old school technology could shape the future of digital computing

×AMID an epic haul of jewels and statues rescued from an ancient Greek shipwreck, it was a lump of corroded wood and bronze that would capture the world’s imagination. Pulled from the Mediterranean Sea in 1901, the was an astonishingly sophisticated 2000-year-old computer. The size of a shoebox, sporting chunky bronze gears rimmed with hundreds of triangular teeth, it was built to chart the paths of celestial bodies and was capable of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division – all by cranking a handle.Nearly half a century would pass before its significance became apparent. By...

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Anna Demming
Jul 25
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Mould from Chernobyl nuclear reactor tested as radiation shield on ISS

Mould from Chernobyl nuclear reactor tested as radiation shield on ISS

×A radiation-absorbing fungus found at the destroyed has been shown to absorb harmful cosmic rays on the International Space Station, and could potentially be used to protect future Mars colonies.Exposure to cosmic rays poses a major health risk to astronauts leaving Earth’s protective atmosphere. Shields can be made out of stainless steel and other materials, but they must be shipped from Earth, which is difficult and costly.Xavier Gomez and Graham Shunk came up with the idea of growing radiation shields on Mars out of living organisms while …Existing subscribers, please with your email...

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Alice Klein
Jul 24
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Hearing restored in rats by modifying ear cells to respond to light

Hearing restored in rats by modifying ear cells to respond to light

×Cochlear implants that restore hearing could be improved by genetically modifying the nerve cells in people’s ears so that they respond to light instead of electricity, a study in rats has shown.“This is so much better than what we currently have with electrical implants,” says Tobias Moser at the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany.Our hearing relies on hair cells inside the cochlea of our ears detecting sounds of different frequencies and then stimulating the right auditory nerve cells. Damage to these hair cells is a common cause of deafness.AdvertisementCochlear implants can...

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Michael Le Page
Jul 23
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Everything you need to know about the Oxford coronavirus vaccine

Everything you need to know about the Oxford coronavirus vaccine

×An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed at the University of Oxford produces the hoped for immune responses in people. Even though it isn’t yet clear if this means the vaccine will prevent infections, the group that made it has struck deals for companies to make 2 billion doses of it within a year.“It’s a really important day today,” says team leader Sarah Gilbert. “But there’s still a long way to go.”At least 23 experimental vaccines are being tested in people. The aim of these trials is to prove that the , but that will take time, because it requires giving the vaccine or a placebo...

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Michael Le Page
Jul 23
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The universe may be full of enormous clusters of tiny black holes

The universe may be full of enormous clusters of tiny black holes

×If formed in the first seconds after the big bang, they may still be around in colossal clusters that are practically invisible.In the very early universe, everything was so dense that the radiation that filled the cosmos could have collapsed to create . If these black holes have survived, they could have become much smaller – and thus harder to detect – than black holes that formed the usual way, through the collapse of a giant star.Juan García-Bellido at the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain and his …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account...

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Leah Crane
Jul 22
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Neanderthal DNA linked to higher fertility in modern humans

Neanderthal DNA linked to higher fertility in modern humans

×A chunk of Neanderthal DNA carried by some people living today appears to reduce the chance of miscarriage and promote fertility. The finding is the latest evidence that Homo sapiens benefitted from Stone Age sexual encounters with other human species.Genetic studies suggest on several occasions, and that people of non-African descent . For about 10 years . It might haveExisting subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of applicable taxes (VAT)*Free gift is only available with quarterly and annual subscription purchases...

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Colin Barras
Jul 20
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Robots can now give full-body personalised massages at home

Robots can now give full-body personalised massages at home

×You can now get a massage without having to rely on another human being or leave your home, thanks to newly developed robot masseurs.French company Capsix Robotics and researchers at the University of Plymouth in the UK have both created robots that can give personalised massages.The Capsix model has a with sensors and a camera that allow it to adapt to the individual user’s body shape. It has been programmed with a range of massage protocols developed by physiotherapists, and users can …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by...

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Alice Klein
Jul 20
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Damaged human lungs revived for transplant by connecting them to a pig

Damaged human lungs revived for transplant by connecting them to a pig

×Donated lungs that are too damaged to be used in transplants have been revived after being connected to the blood supply of a live pig. The technique could potentially triple the number of lungs available for transplant, say the researchers behind the work.As soon as someone dies, their lungs begin to deteriorate. If the person has chosen to donate their lungs, the race is on to get the organs to a recipient as soon as possible. “The lung is very delicate,” says James Fildes at the University of Manchester, UK, who wasn’t involved in the work. “It is one of the most difficult organs to...

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Jessica Hamzelou
Jul 13
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Noise-cancelling windows halve traffic sounds even when they're open

Noise-cancelling windows halve traffic sounds even when they're open

×People living in cities with warm climates face a problem during summer months: keeping windows open for ventilation means letting in traffic sounds. A noise-cancelling device could solve this dilemma.Bhan Lam at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and his colleagues have created a device that can halve the  reducing the sound coming through an open window by up to 10 decibels.To cancel out road noise, the researchers used 24 small loudspeakers and fixed these to the security grilles of a typical window in Singapore in an 8×3 grid. These grilles are a common feature across...

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Donna Lu
Jul 13
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Weird caterpillar uses its old heads to make an elaborate hat

Weird caterpillar uses its old heads to make an elaborate hat

×PhotographerAlan HendersonTHIS caterpillar sports a unique headpiece: each ball is one of its old moulted heads, precariously stacked on top of each other.AdvertisementAs the caterpillar of the moth Uraba lugens grows, it sheds its exoskeleton – but rather than getting rid of the previous head section, it stays attached to its body to create a bizarre “hat”.This has earned it the nickname the mad hatterpillar, after the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Found in Australia and New Zealand, U. lugens is also known as the gum-leaf skeletoniser, thanks to the...

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Gege Li
Jul 13
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Laser-sculpted aluminium purifies water with the power of sunlight

Laser-sculpted aluminium purifies water with the power of sunlight

×A black panel of aluminium crafted by lasers can purify water when heated by ordinary sunlight. It could eventually be used in drought-stricken areas or regions where is not readily available.Chunlei Guo at the University of Rochester in New York and his colleagues made the panel using short-pulse lasers on an 3 by 3 centimetre aluminium sheet, creating rows of tube-like microscopic grooves on the surface of the aluminium. On these grooves there are even smaller nanoscale bumps.The resulting sheet is both black in appearance and attracts water. “If I put a sample [of the aluminium]...

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Donna Lu
Jul 13
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The powerhouses inside cells have been gene-edited for the first time

The powerhouses inside cells have been gene-edited for the first time

×Mitochondria, the structures inside our cells that use food to produce energy, have been gene-edited for the first time. A new kind of “base editor” was used, opening the door to treating disorders related to faulty mitochondria.These organelles  and mutations in this DNA can lead to to intellectual disability. Some result in death in early childhood, while an accumulation of mitochondrial mutations may be one of the causes of age-related diseases.Two problems have thwarted previous attempts to gene-edit mitochondria. The first is that most gene editors work by cutting DNA, but...

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Michael Le Page
Jul 13
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Disco-ball sail propelled by laser could fly to a nearby star

Disco-ball sail propelled by laser could fly to a nearby star

×Cone-shaped sails are so last year. If we really want to send probes outside our solar system, spherical sails may be the way to go.Earlier this year, billionaire Yuri Milner announced Breakthrough Starshot, an ambitious plan to accelerate tiny probes through space at a fifth of the speed of light. At that speed, an could reach our closest neighbouring star system in just 20 years, sending back pictures of anything interesting once it arrived.The LightSail spacecraft successfully showed last year that it is possible for to propel spacecraft using rays of sunlight. But to achieve the...

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Timothy Revell
Jul 2
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Smallest satellite ever paves way for planned interstellar fleet

Smallest satellite ever paves way for planned interstellar fleet

×Breakthrough Starshot has taken the first step towards their grand plans to one day send spacecraft to Alpha Centauri. On June 23, the to send light-propelled spacecraft to our nearest star sent the tiniest-ever satellites into orbit.An Indian rocket , called Sprites, into space. Two of them are attached to the sides of other, larger satellites: the Latvian Venta satellite and the Italian Max Valier satellite. Once communications are established, the Max Valier satellite will release the other four Sprites to orbit on their own.Each Sprite is a four-gram square of circuit board measuring...

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Leah Crane
Jul 2
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Lenses made with spider silk could help take pictures inside the body

Lenses made with spider silk could help take pictures inside the body

×Spider silk is good for more than just catching flies. It could also be used to manufacture lenses for capturing extremely high-resolution images of the insides of biological tissues.One particular type of spider silk, called dragline silk, is generally used as the “frame” of a spiderweb because it is incredibly tough – stronger by weight than steel. Cheng-Yang Liu at National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan and his colleagues used dragline silk from Pholcus phalangioides spiders, also known as , as a sort of scaffold on which to build lenses.To make a lens, they covered a strand of spider...

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Leah Crane
Jul 2
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Honeywell claims it has built the most powerful quantum computer ever

Honeywell claims it has built the most powerful quantum computer ever

×Honeywell, a company best known for making control systems for homes, businesses and planes, to have built the most powerful quantum computer ever. Other researchers are sceptical about its power, but for the company, it is a step towards integrating quantum computing into its everyday operations.Honeywell measured its computer’s capabilities using a metric invented by IBM called quantum volume. It takes into account the number of quantum bits – or qubits – the computer has, their error rate, how long the system can spend calculating before the qubits stop working and a few other key...

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Leah Crane
Jun 26
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Birds and other animals may see colours that we cannot even imagine

Birds and other animals may see colours that we cannot even imagine

×Birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish may see kinds of colours we can’t even imagine, say researchers whose experiments with wild hummingbirds show they perceive five so-called non-spectral colours.Almost all of the correspond to a single wavelength. Such colours are called spectral colours because they are part of the visible spectrum, ranging from red and yellow to blue and violet.The exception is , which can be evoked only by a combination of red and blue light, not by any single wavelength. For this reason, it is known as a non-spectral colour. “For us, purple is kind of special,” says...

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Michael Le Page
Jun 22
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Millions of us take drugs for high blood pressure – is it worth it?

Millions of us take drugs for high blood pressure – is it worth it?

×LAST year, I was diagnosed with , otherwise known as hypertension. “Why me?” I asked. , I’m not overweight, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink excessively. I even meditate.”At first, I doubted the diagnosis. Admittedly, my blood pressure had been up in a routine consultation. But when I monitored it at home over the following week, the measurements differed every time, even from one minute to the next. Besides, the average of these readings wasn’t much above the normal range. Yet my doctor had recommended pills to bring the pressure down. Why act on such shifting figures? How do the pills...

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Peter Judge
Jun 20
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Uber and Lyft pricing algorithms charge more in non-white areas

Uber and Lyft pricing algorithms charge more in non-white areas

×The algorithms that ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, use to determine fares appear to create a .By analysing transport and census data in Chicago, Aylin Caliskan and Akshat Pandey at The George Washington University in Washington DC have found that ride-hailing companies charge a higher price per mile for a trip if the pick-up point or destination is a neighbourhood with a higher proportion of residents than for those with predominantly white residents.“Basically, if you’re going to a neighbourhood where there’s a large African-American population, you’re going to pay a...

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Donna Lu
Jun 19
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There might not be as many microplastic fibres in oceans as we feared

There might not be as many microplastic fibres in oceans as we feared

×Most of the microfibres polluting our oceans – which have long been assumed to be plastic – are actually natural fibres like cotton and wool. But we don’t yet know whether these fibres pose the same health risks to marine organisms.Textile microfibres are major contributors to marine pollution because they are readily shed from clothes during general wear and tear and laundering, and or wash down drains. A single machine wash of polyester clothing, for example, releases .Previous have tended to count all microfibres as plastic, based on the assumption that natural fibres like cotton and...

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Alice Klein
Jun 19
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Why icy moons like Europa are our best bet for finding alien life

Why icy moons like Europa are our best bet for finding alien life

×OUR best shot at finding may lie in the of the outer solar system – particularly Titan and , and Jupiter’s moon . We think they all have vast liquid water oceans beneath their frozen outer shells thanks to their highly elliptical orbits, which create such intense tidal forces that they are warmed from the inside out. Europa’s ocean is thought to be much deeper than those on Earth, but with a similar chemical balance. Enceladus, meanwhile, spews geysers into its atmosphere that contain at least some of the ingredients life requires.“One thing we’ve learned is that where you find liquid...

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Daniel Cossins
Jun 19
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