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Puzzling signal on Saturn’s moon Rhea may finally be explained

Puzzling signal on Saturn’s moon Rhea may finally be explained

×A mystery on Saturn’s moon Rhea may have finally been solved. When NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flew past the planet’s second-largest moon before the end of its mission in 2017, it spotted a mysterious compound. It turns out, that compound may be hydrazine, which is often used in rocket fuel.As Cassini flew past Saturn’s moons, it examined the sunlight bouncing off their surfaces to determine what they are made of. On Rhea, as well as several of the , something on the surface absorbed a portion of that light in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum.“We noticed there was this dip in the...

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Leah Crane
35d ago
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A quarter of all known bee species haven't been seen since the 1990s

A quarter of all known bee species haven't been seen since the 1990s

×The number of bee species recorded worldwide has been sharply decreasing since the 1990s.Eduardo Zattara and Marcelo Aizen at the National University of Comahue in Argentina analysed how many wild bee species are observed each year as recorded in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility – a publicly available platform where researchers and citizens can record sightings of bee species.They found that there were a quarter fewer species reported between 2006 and 2015, as compared with the records we have from before 1990.AdvertisementThe decline is especially alarming considering the...

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Karina Shah
35d ago
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An Earth-like planet might orbit our closest single sun-like star

An Earth-like planet might orbit our closest single sun-like star

×A star like our sun just 12 light years away might host a rocky world in its habitable zone where conditions allow for liquid water.Jeremy Dietrich and Dániel Apai at the University of Arizona devised an algorithm called DYNAMITE to predict the existence of planets around a given star based on data from planets already known to orbit it.They applied this algorithm to a star called Tau Ceti, which is the closest single sun-like star to …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of applicable taxes...

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Jonathan O’Callaghan
5d ago
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The superconductor breakthrough that could mean an energy revolution

The superconductor breakthrough that could mean an energy revolution

×THEY called it the “Woodstock of physics”. The hastily convened evening session of the American Physical Society meeting in the New York Hilton hotel on 18 March 1987 was supposed to last for just a few hours. In the event, some 1800 physicists crammed into a space made for 1100, with thousands more watching on TV screens outside. The session eventually broke up at 3.15 am, with many people lingering until beyond dawn. The news made front pages around the world. In New York, meeting participants were feted on the street.The reason for the unlikely euphoria was a sudden slew of...

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Michael Brooks
6d ago
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Australian lungfish has largest genome of any animal sequenced so far

Australian lungfish has largest genome of any animal sequenced so far

×The Australian lungfish has the largest genome of any animal so far sequenced.Siegfried Schloissnig at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Austria and his colleagues have found that the lungfish’s genome is 43 billion base pairs long, which is around 14 times larger than the .Its genome is 30 per cent larger than that of the previous record holder: the , a Mexican amphibian that the team sequenced in 2018.AdvertisementThe researchers used high-powered computer sequencers to piece together the lungfish genome.To account for inherent errors that the sequencers introduce, they...

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Donna Lu
Jan 19
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Quantum internet signals beamed between drones a kilometre apart

Quantum internet signals beamed between drones a kilometre apart

×Entangled photons have been sent between two drones hovering a kilometre apart, demonstrating technology that could form the building blocks of a quantum internet.When a pair of photons are quantum entangled, you can instantly deduce the state of one by measuring the other, regardless of the distance separating them. This phenomenon, which Albert Einstein dismissively called “spooky action at a distance”, is the basis of quantum – using entangled particles to ensure communications are secret.Quantum networks are far more secure than the existing internet because any attempt to eavesdrop...

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Matthew Sparkes
Jan 18
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CRISPR gene-editing urgently needs an off-switch – now we have one

CRISPR gene-editing urgently needs an off-switch – now we have one

×THERE is a technology that could tackle some of life’s most pressing problems, from disease to malnutrition. It could fix medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anaemia simply by changing a bit of genetic code. It could eliminate malaria by making male mosquitoes infertile. It could wipe out pests that destroy crops. And it could modify other organisms to increase their usefulness, helping to create foods that are tastier and more nutritious.This is the promise of CRISPR, a biochemical tool at the forefront of a gene-editing revolution. Produced naturally by bacteria,...

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Gege Li
Jan 15
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Artificial intelligence could train your dog how to sit

Artificial intelligence could train your dog how to sit

×could train your dog while you are out at work. A prototype device can issue basic dog commands, recognise if they are carried out and provide a treat if they are.Jason Stock and Tom Cavey at Colorado State University trained an to identify when dogs were sitting, standing or lying down using over 20,000 images of dogs from different breeds. The AI achieved 92 per cent accuracy.This was then combined with a moveable camera, a speaker for issuing instructions and a …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of...

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Chris Stokel-Walker
Jan 14
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Tropical rainforests may begin pumping out carbon dioxide by 2050

Tropical rainforests may begin pumping out carbon dioxide by 2050

×Rising temperatures over the next few decades could cause Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems – including rainforests – to go from being net carbon sinks that from the atmosphere to carbon sources which release it.How well an ecosystem can act as a carbon sink is temperature dependent. That is because living things have an optimum range of temperatures at which they can function properly. Beyond this, things start to go wrong.Katharyn Duffy at Northern Arizona University and her colleagues constructed a temperature dependence curve for plants, a model predicting responses to temperature changes...

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Krista Charles
Jan 14
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Chemical that makes chilli peppers spicy boosts solar panel cells

Chemical that makes chilli peppers spicy boosts solar panel cells

×Solar cells treated with capsaicin – the compound that makes chilli peppers hot – have been found to be more efficient at converting solar energy.Ultrathin solar cells made with lead-based materials can absorb light than silicon-based solar cells, but they often can’t convert energy as efficiently because they lose some of it to heat. Turns out, the solution is to add a bit of heat.Qinye Bao and his colleagues at East China Normal University in Shanghai added capsaicin to these ultrathin perovskite solar cells during the manufacturing process. Bao and his team suspected that capsaicin...

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Karina Shah
Jan 14
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World’s oldest painting of animals discovered in an Indonesian cave

World’s oldest painting of animals discovered in an Indonesian cave

×Stunning cave paintings discovered in Indonesia include what might be the oldest known depictions of animals on the planet, dating back at least 45,000 years.The paintings of three pigs, alongside several hand stencils, were discovered in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Even local people were unaware of the cave sites’ existence until their discovery in 2017 by Adam Brumm at Griffith University, Australia, and his team.“I was struck dumb,” says Brumm. “It’s one of the most spectacular and well-preserved figurative animal paintings known from the...

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Ibrahim Sawal
Jan 14
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CRISPR doubles lifespan of mice with rapid ageing disease progeria

CRISPR doubles lifespan of mice with rapid ageing disease progeria

×has been used to more than double the lifespan of mice engineered to have , also greatly improving their health.The results far surpassed expectations. Progeria affects many different organs in the body, and the team behind the work didn’t expect that correcting the mutation in a relatively low proportion of cells – 10 to 60 per cent – would have such a big effect. “We were quite amazed,” says .Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome is a rare condition caused when a mutation, which probably took place in the testes or ovaries of a child’s parents, results in a single DNA letter change in one...

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Michael Le Page
Jan 14
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Corals bleached from heat become less resilient to ocean acidification

Corals bleached from heat become less resilient to ocean acidification

×get a double-whammy negative from heat – those that are bleached as a result of heat stress also become .Robert Eagle at the University of California, Los Angeles and his colleagues have analysed the effect of elevated temperatures on the growth of two species of stony coral when the corals are also exposed to ocean acidification.The acidification of oceans occurs as result of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere . The results are a decrease in the pH of the water, a decrease in its concentration of carbonate ions and a drop in the saturation states of calcium carbonate...

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Donna Lu
Jan 14
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Is it true climate change will cause the end of civilisation by 2050?

Is it true climate change will cause the end of civilisation by 2050?

×Climate change could bring about the end of civilisation as we know it within three decades, an Australian think tank has warned. by Breakthrough, endorsed by a retired Australian admiral, says a war-time response is needed to avoid the doomsday scenario. “The report speaks, in our opinion, a harsh but necessary truth,” says co-author David Spratt.What does the report say we are in for?The authors sketch a scenario where by 2050 more than half of the world’s population faces 20 days a year of lethal heat, crop yields globally drop by a fifth, the Amazon ecosystem collapses, the Arctic is...

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Adam Vaughan
Dec 17
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We may have seen a huge explosion in the oldest galaxy in the universe

We may have seen a huge explosion in the oldest galaxy in the universe

×An explosion of high-energy radiation may have been spotted coming from a galaxy in the distant universe. If confirmed, it would be the oldest known , occurring about 400 million years after the big bang.Linhua Jiang at Peking University in Beijing, China, and his colleagues were using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to study the faintest and oldest known galaxy in the universe, GN-z11, when they saw the galaxy appear to grow hundreds of times brighter for just under 3 minutes.The researchers think this could have been a gamma-ray burst, a type of extremely luminous event that has been seen...

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Jonathan O’Callaghan
Dec 16
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Kangaroos can learn to ask for help from humans just like dogs do

Kangaroos can learn to ask for help from humans just like dogs do

×Kangaroos in zoos and sanctuaries use body language to ask humans for help, much like horses and dogs do, which suggests that even wild animals can learn to engage in interspecies communication just by being around humans.This overturns previous theories that animals’ ability to communicate with humans resulted from domestication, says Alan McElligott at City University of Hong Kong.Fifty million kangaroos – an animal family that has never been domesticated – . They are so common that they are “the equivalent of deer in Europe”, says McElligott. However, thousands of these marsupials live...

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Christa Lesté-Lasserre
Dec 16
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Military robots perform worse when humans won't stop interrupting them

Military robots perform worse when humans won't stop interrupting them

×When soldiers are teamed with robots, the human need to interfere may negate the benefits of robotic assistance, a new US military project has discovered. But letting military artificial intelligence proceed without human supervision raises troubling ethical questions.The project foresees a team of around 200 to 300 soldiers augmented with swarms of small drones and robotic ground vehicles. The lightly equipped unit would fight in zones where the enemy …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of applicable taxes...

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David Hambling
Dec 13
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The Milky Way's black hole burped out two colossal X-ray bubbles

The Milky Way's black hole burped out two colossal X-ray bubbles

×Our galaxy has blown some bubbles. Astronomers have spotted a pair of enormous bubbles of plasma extending above and below the Milky Way and emitting X-rays, and they probably came from an extraordinary event in the galaxy’s centre.Andrea Merloni at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and his colleagues found these balloons of using the eROSITA X-ray telescope aboard the Spektr-RG space observatory. Pictures of the entire sky from eROSITA revealed giant spheres of gas extending more than 45,000 light years above and below the disc of the galaxy. For comparison,...

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Leah Crane
Dec 10
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Ancestor of pterosaurs might have been a tree-climbing reptile

Ancestor of pterosaurs might have been a tree-climbing reptile

×We finally have a clearer picture of how pterosaurs – a group of extinct flying reptiles – first evolved. The creatures shared dozens of key traits with a long-extinct group of dinosaur-like reptiles that might have been skilled tree climbers, according to a new analysis.Pterosaurs evolved about 220 million years ago and for around 160 million years, until they went extinct along with . Yet figuring out which group of reptiles they evolved from has been difficult.“They appear in the fossil record with fully developed wings and all the modifications associated with flight,” says Martín...

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Michael Le Page
Dec 10
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Microplastics left in water are more easily absorbed by mouse cells

Microplastics left in water are more easily absorbed by mouse cells

×Microplastic particles that are exposed to fresh water or saltwater for several weeks are more likely to be absorbed by mouse cells growing in the laboratory, suggesting that environmental microplastics may be able to enter cells more easily than we thought.Studies investigating the potential effects of in animals often use clean – or “pristine” – microplastic particles. Yet these don’t fully resemble the particles found in nature, which can become coated with debris from the environment.Anja Ramsperger at the University of Bayreuth in Germany and her colleagues took pristine microplastic...

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Layal Liverpool
Dec 10
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UK takes step towards world's first nuclear fusion power station

UK takes step towards world's first nuclear fusion power station

×The UK today embarked on a step toward building the world’s first nuclear fusion power station, by launching a search for a 100-plus hectare site where it can be plugged into the electricity grid. However, there are still major hurdles to overcome before it could start generating power.Prime minister Boris Johnson last year an extra £200 million to flesh out the possibility of building the project, known as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP). The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the government body overseeing STEP, hopes construction could begin around 2030, with the...

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Adam Vaughan
Dec 2
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DeepMind's AI biologist can decipher secrets of the machinery of life

DeepMind's AI biologist can decipher secrets of the machinery of life

×An developed by has achieved the long-sought-after goal of accurately predicting the shape of proteins from their sequence alone, a key part of understanding how the machinery of life works. In a competition, AlphaFold was able to match two-thirds of the results achieved by humans doing expensive and time-consuming lab experiments.“I was really wowed when I saw it,” says John Moult at the University of Maryland, one of the competition’s organisers. “This is the first time we’ve come close to approaching experimental usefulness, which is pretty extraordinary.”Proteins are vital for life....

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Michael Le Page
Dec 1
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Double climate disaster may have ended ancient Harappan civilisation

Double climate disaster may have ended ancient Harappan civilisation

×Even for a civilisation as , a second drought was perhaps one too many. A two-pronged climate catastrophe may be what drove the ancient society to disperse and eventually disappear.The Harappan arose in the Indus valley between north-east Afghanistan and north-west India around 5200 years ago, peaking around 2600 BC. Much about them is unknown, as their . Yet archaeological remains tell the story of a sophisticated people, skilled in metallurgy, trade and urban planning, and particularly adept at controlling water. Their huge cities, complete with intricate sewer systems, reservoirs and...

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Richard Kemeny
Dec 1
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Climate change has revealed a huge haul of ancient arrows in Norway

Climate change has revealed a huge haul of ancient arrows in Norway

×An extraordinary number of dating from the Stone Age to the medieval period have melted out of a single ice patch in Norway in recent years because of climate change.Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Oslo and Bergen gathered up a total of 68 , some with arrow heads still attached or nearby, and many other artefacts. Almost all of the items were found on an area of mountainside no bigger than 18 hectares in Jotunheimen, a region of southern Norway.The oldest arrows date from around 4100 BC while the youngest are from roughly AD 1300, based on radiocarbon analysis. However, the...

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Chris Baraniuk
Dec 1
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Plate tectonics may have begun a billion years earlier than thought

Plate tectonics may have begun a billion years earlier than thought

×Plate tectonics may have begun 4 billion years ago, almost a billion years earlier than we thought, according to a new analysis of ancient rocks.The claim has earned a mixed response from geologists. Many argue that Earth was too hot at the time for plate tectonics in its modern form.Today, Earth’s crust is divided into , which move around over millions of years. Where two plates meet, one can be forced under the other and destroyed inside the planet, a …Existing subscribers, please with your email address to link your account access.Paid annually by Credit CardInclusive of applicable...

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Michael Marshall
Nov 20
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