Monday, March 13, 2017

Science X Newsletter Week 10

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 10:

Indicators show potatoes can grow on Mars

The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP's proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California. Preliminary results are positive.

Caffeine boosts enzyme that could protect against dementia, study finds

A study by Indiana University researchers has identified 24 compounds—including caffeine—with the potential to boost an enzyme in the brain shown to protect against dementia.

Physicists extend quantum machine learning to infinite dimensions

Physicists have developed a quantum machine learning algorithm that can handle infinite dimensions—that is, it works with continuous variables (which have an infinite number of possible values on a closed interval) instead of the typically used discrete variables (which have only a finite number of values).

Blueberry concentrate improves brain function in older people

Drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older people, according to research by the University of Exeter.

Chemists create molecular 'leaf' that collects and stores solar power without solar panels

An international team of scientists led by Liang-shi Li at Indiana University has achieved a new milestone in the quest to recycle carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere into carbon-neutral fuels and others materials.

Brain is 10 times more active than previously measured, researchers find

A new UCLA study could change scientists' understanding of how the brain works—and could lead to new approaches for treating neurological disorders and for developing computers that "think" more like humans.

Scientists show cognitive enhancing drugs can improve chess play

The first study to both show and measure the effects of cognitive-enhancing drugs such as modafinil, methylphenidate (best known under the trade name Ritalin), and caffeine, on chess play is being published in the March edition of the peer-reviewed journal European Neuropsychopharmacology. This shows significant cognitive improvements for modafinil and methylphenidate, and may have influence how these drugs are used off-label in a range of activities.

Gravity wave detection with atomic clocks

The recent detection of gravitation waves (GW) from the merger of two black holes of about thirty solar-masses each with the ground-based LIGO facility has generated renewed enthusiasm for developing even more sensitive measurement techniques. Ground-based GW instruments have widely spaced sensors that can detect sub-microscopic changes in their separation—better than one part in a billion trillion, They suffer, however, from the noise produced by small ground tremors—vibrations from natural or man-made sources that ripple through the precisely tuned detectors. The vibrations most difficult to compensate for are those that change relatively slowly, at frequencies around once a second or less, yet astronomers predict that GW sources producing these slow variations should be interesting and abundant, from compact stellar-mass binary stars to gravitational events in the early universe.

Dental plaque DNA shows Neandertals used 'aspirin'

Ancient DNA found in the dental plaque of Neandertals - our nearest extinct relative - has provided remarkable new insights into their behaviour, diet and evolutionary history, including their use of plant-based medicine to treat pain and illness.

NASA wants to create the coolest spot in the universe

This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe.

Doctors find patient brain activity continued for 10 minutes after death

A team of doctors affiliated with the University of Western Ontario in Canada has documented a case in which a terminal patient removed from life support continued to experience brain wave activity for approximately 10 minutes after they had been pronounced clinically dead. In their paper published in The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, the team describes the circumstances of the unusual event and acknowledge that they have no explanation for what they observed.

Researchers create 'time crystals' envisioned by Princeton scientists

Time crystals may sound like something from science fiction, having more to do with time travel or Dr. Who. These strange materials—in which atoms and molecules are arranged across space and time—are in fact quite real, and are opening up entirely new ways to think about the nature of matter. They also eventually may help protect information in futuristic devices known as quantum computers.

New NASA radar technique finds lost lunar spacecraft

Finding derelict spacecraft and space debris in Earth's orbit can be a technological challenge. Detecting these objects in orbit around Earth's moon is even more difficult. Optical telescopes are unable to search for small objects hidden in the bright glare of the moon. However, a new technological application of interplanetary radar pioneered by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has successfully located spacecraft orbiting the moon—one active, and one dormant. This new technique could assist planners of future moon missions.

'Blurred times' in a quantum world

When measuring time, we normally assume that clocks do not affect space and time, and that time can be measured with infinite accuracy at nearby points in space. However, combining quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of general relativity theoretical physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have demonstrated a fundamental limitation for our ability to measure time. The more precise a given clock is, the more it "blurs" the flow of time measured by neighbouring clocks. As a consequence, the time shown by the clocks is no longer well defined. The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

New materials could turn water into the fuel of the future

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have—in just two years—nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels.

The future of space colonization – terraforming or space habitats?

The idea of terraforming Mars – aka "Earth's Twin" – is a fascinating idea. Between melting the polar ice caps, slowly creating an atmosphere, and then engineering the environment to have foliage, rivers, and standing bodies of water, there's enough there to inspire just about anyone! But just how long would such an endeavor take, what would it cost us, and is it really an effective use of our time and energy?

Czech scientists develop magnetic carbon

A dream of many generations of researchers has been fulfilled by a discovery made by scientists at the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) at the Palacky University in Olomouc. By using graphene, an ultrathin form of carbon, these scientists prepared the first non-metallic magnet that retains its magnetic properties up to room temperature. In doing so, they disproved the old belief that all materials with room temperature magnetism are based on metals or their compounds. Chemically modified magnetic graphene has a vast range of potential applications, particularly in the fields of biomedicine and electronics. The work of the Czech scientists has recently been published in Nature Communications.

Vision, not limbs, led fish onto land 385 million years ago

A provocative new Northwestern University and Claremont McKenna, Scripps and Pitzer colleges study suggests it was the power of the eyes and not the limbs that first led our ancient aquatic ancestors to make the momentous leap from water to land. Crocodile-like animals first saw easy meals on land and then evolved limbs that enabled them to get there, the researchers argue.

Trees' ability to store carbon in doubt after groundbreaking Australian study

The ability of trees to offset carbon emissions has been questioned after a Western Sydney University study found common Australian trees are unable to store as much carbon as previously thought.

Neuroscientists pinpoint key gene controlling tumor growth in brain cancers

Cedars-Sinai investigators have identified a stem cell-regulating gene that affects tumor growth in patients with brain cancer and can strongly influence survival rates of patients. The findings, published in the online edition of Scientific Reports, could move physicians closer to their goal of better predicting the prognosis of patients with brain tumors and developing more personalized treatments for them.

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