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Apr 19, 2024

Ghost particle on the scales: Research offers more precise determination of neutrino mass

Posted by in category: particle physics

What is the mass of a neutrino at rest? This is one of the big unanswered questions in physics. Neutrinos play a central role in nature. A team led by Klaus Blaum, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, has now made an important contribution in “weighing” neutrinos as part of the international ECHo collaboration. Their findings are published in Nature Physics.

Using a Penning trap, it has measured the change in mass of a holmium-163 isotope with extreme precision when its nucleus captures an electron and turns into dysprosium-163. From this, it was able to determine the Q value 50 times more accurately than before. Using a more precise Q-value, possible systematic errors in the determination of the neutrino mass can be revealed.

In the 1930s, it turned out that neither the energy nor the momentum balance is correct in the radioactive beta decay of an atomic nucleus. This led to the postulate of “ghost particles” that “secretly” carry away energy and momentum. In 1956, experimental proof of such neutrinos was finally obtained. The challenge: neutrinos only interact with other particles of matter via the weak interaction that is also underlying the beta decay of an atomic nucleus.

Apr 19, 2024

Light show in living cells: New method allows simultaneous fluorescent labeling of many proteins

Posted by in category: futurism

Observing proteins precisely within cells is extremely important for many branches of research but has been a significant technical challenge—especially in living cells, as the required fluorescent labeling had to be individually attached to each protein.

Apr 19, 2024

Unraveling water mysteries beyond Earth: Ground-penetrating radar will seek bodies of water on Jupiter

Posted by in category: space travel

Finding water on distant planets and moons in our solar system is a challenge, especially when the instrument is thousands of kilometers away from the surface, but scientists presenting at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly describe how ground-penetrating radar is used to discover bodies of water below the surface of distant planets and they are on their way to Jupiter.

Apr 19, 2024

In search for alien life, purple may be the new green

Posted by in categories: alien life, evolution, sustainability

From house plants and gardens to fields and forests, green is the color we most associate with surface life on Earth, where conditions favored the evolution of organisms that perform oxygen-producing photosynthesis using the green pigment chlorophyll a.

Apr 19, 2024

Research reveals a surprising topological reversal in quantum systems

Posted by in categories: mathematics, quantum physics

In principle, one shouldn’t compare apples to oranges. However, in topology, which is a branch of mathematics, one must do just that. Apples and oranges, it turns out, are said to be topologically the same since they both lack a hole—in contrast to doughnuts or coffee cups, for instance, which both have one (the handle in the case of the cup), and thus are topologically equal.

Apr 19, 2024

A third of China’s urban population at risk of city sinking, new satellite data shows

Posted by in categories: climatology, health, mapping, sustainability

Land subsidence is overlooked as a hazard in cities, according to scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Virginia Tech. Writing in the journal Science, Prof Robert Nicholls of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at UEA and Prof Manoochehr Shirzaei of Virginia Tech and United Nations University for Water, Environment and Health, Ontario, highlight the importance of a new research paper analyzing satellite data that accurately and consistently maps land movement across China.

Apr 19, 2024

Drawing a line back to the origin of life: Graphitization could provide simplicity scientists are looking for

Posted by in category: chemistry

Scientists in Cambridge University suggest molecules, vital to the development of life, could have formed from a process known as graphitization. Once verified in the laboratory, it could allow us to try and recreate plausible conditions for life’s emergence.

How did the chemicals required for life get there? It has long been debated how the seemingly fortuitous conditions for life arose in nature, with many hypotheses reaching dead ends. However, researchers at the University of Cambridge have now modeled how these conditions could occur, producing the necessary ingredients for life in substantial quantities.

Life is governed by molecules called proteins, phospholipids and nucleotides. Past research suggests that useful molecules containing nitrogen like nitriles—cyanoacetylene(HC3N) and (HCN)—and isonitriles—isocyanide(HNC) and methyl isocyanide(CH3NC)—could be used to make these building blocks of life. As of yet though, there has been no clear way to make all of these in the same environment in substantial amounts.

Apr 19, 2024

Spintronics: A new path to room temperature swirling spin textures

Posted by in categories: materials, particle physics

In some materials, spins form complex magnetic structures within the nanometer and micrometer scale in which the magnetization direction twists and curls along specific directions. Examples of such structures are magnetic bubbles, skyrmions, and magnetic vortices.

Apr 19, 2024

New research could enable more—and more efficient—synthesis of metastable materials

Posted by in category: materials

Ion exchange is a powerful technique for converting one material to another when synthesizing new products. In this process, scientists know what reactants lead to what products, but how the process works—the exact pathway of how one material can be converted to another—has remained elusive.

Apr 19, 2024

Evolution’s recipe book: How ‘copy paste’ errors led to insect flight, octopus camouflage and human cognition

Posted by in category: evolution

Seven hundred million years ago, a remarkable creature emerged for the first time. Though it may not have been much to look at by today’s standards, the animal had a front and a back, a top and a bottom. This was a groundbreaking adaptation at the time, and one which laid down the basic body plan which most complex animals, including humans, would eventually inherit.

The inconspicuous animal resided in the ancient seas of Earth, likely crawling along the seafloor. This was the last common ancestor of bilaterians, a vast supergroup of animals including vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals), and invertebrates (insects, arthropods, mollusks, worms, echinoderms and many more).

To this day, more than 7,000 groups of genes can be traced back to the last common ancestor of bilaterians, according to a study of 20 different bilaterian species including humans, sharks, mayflies, centipedes and octopuses. The findings were made by researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona and are published today in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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