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Jul 2, 2020

The detector with a billion sensors that may finally snare dark matter

Posted by in categories: cosmology, electronics

Dark matter must exist, but has evaded all attempts to find it. Now comes our boldest plan yet – sensing its minuscule gravitational force as it brushes past us.

Jul 2, 2020

‘Hybrid’ Quantum Networking Demonstrated for First Time

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics

In a world’s first, researchers in France and the U.S. have performed a pioneering experiment demonstrating “hybrid” quantum networking. The approach, which unites two distinct methods of encoding information in particles of light called photons, could eventually allow for more capable and robust communications and computing.

Similar to how classical electronics can represent information as digital or analog signals, quantum systems can encode information as either discrete variables (DVs) in particles or continuous variables (CVs) in waves. Researchers have historically used one approach or the other—but not both—in any given system.

“DV and CV encoding have distinct advantages and drawbacks,” says Hugues de Riedmatten of the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, who was not a part of the research. CV systems encode information in the varying intensity, or phasing, of light waves. They tend to be more efficient than DV approaches but are also more delicate, exhibiting stronger sensitivity to signal losses. Systems using DVs, which transmit information by the counting of photons, are harder to pair with conventional information technologies than CV techniques. They are also less error-prone and more fault-tolerant, however. Combining the two, de Riedmatten says, could offer “the best of both worlds.”

Jul 2, 2020

Scientists Use Genetics to Develop Better Formula to Calculate Dog Age in “Human Years”

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, genetics

If there’s one myth that has persisted through the years without much evidence, it’s this: multiply your dog’s age by seven to calculate how old they are in “human years.” In other words, the old adage says, a four-year-old dog is similar in physiological age to a 28-year-old person.

But a new study by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine throws that out the window. Instead, they created a formula that more accurately compares the ages of humans and dogs. The formula is based on the changing patterns of methyl groups in dog and human genomes — how many of these chemical tags and where they’re located — as they age. Since the two species don’t age at the same rate over their lifespans, it turns out it’s not a perfectly linear comparison, as the 1:7 years rule-of-thumb would suggest.

Jul 2, 2020

Musk Reads: How SpaceX could reach Mars before 2030

Posted by in categories: internet, space

Crew Dragon offers views of Earth and Robert Zubrin calls for developing the asteroid belt. Could Starlink work with an RV? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #181.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Jul 2, 2020

Stimulating production of enzyme in roundworms found to increase lifespan

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in South Korea has found that stimulating production of a certain enzyme in roundworms can increase their lifespan. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of the protein VRK-1 and what they learned about its impact on the longevity of roundworms.

Prior research has shown that one way to increase longevity in some species is to use techniques that slow down mitochondrial respiration. In this new effort, the researchers were looking to better understand why slowing in mitochondria has an impact on aging. As part of their effort, they looked at an energy sensor in mitochondria called adenosine 5’-monophosphate-activated (AMPK), known to play a role in controlling how much energy is used in cells in roundworms. Prior research had suggested its level of activity is controlled by the protein VRK-1. To learn more about its impact on aging, the researchers genetically engineered two lines of roundworms to force them to produce more VRK-1 and two lines of roundworms to force them to produce less VRK-1. They then monitored the roundworms to see how long they lived.

The researchers found those roundworms expressing more than the normal amount of VRK-1 tended to live longer than average, while those expressing less than average amounts of VRK-1 had shorter lifespans. More specifically, control worms representing the normal lifespan of a lived on average 16.9 days. In their experiments, one of the lines expressing more VRK-1 lived on average 20.8 days, while the other lived on average 23.7 days. And one of the lines producing less VRK-1 lived on average just 12.7 days and the other just 15.9 days. The researchers suggest this finding indicates that VRK-1 has a direct impact on roundworm longevity.

Jul 2, 2020

The world’s first 3D-printed vegan steak is here and could hit restaurants soon

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, food

Israeli company Redefine Meat has unveiled the world’s first vegan 3D-printed burger and it could be hitting restaurants soon.

Jul 1, 2020

India TikTok Ban Threatens China’s Rise as Global Tech Power

Posted by in categories: government, internet

India’s unprecedented decision to ban 59 of China’s largest apps is a warning to the country’s tech giants, who for years thrived behind a government-imposed Great Firewall that kept out many of America’s best-known internet names. If India finds a way to carry out that threat, it may present a model for other countries from Europe to Southeast Asia that seek to curtail the pervasiveness of apps like ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok while safeguarding their citizens’ valuable data.


China over the past decade built an alternate online reality where Google and Facebook barely exist. Now its own tech corporations, from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent Holdings Ltd., are getting a taste of what a shutout feels like.

Jul 1, 2020

Artificial intelligence helping NASA design the new Artemis moon suit

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space travel

Last fall, NASA unveiled the new suits that Artemis astronauts will wear when they take humanity’s first steps on the lunar surface for the first time since way back in 1972. The look of the A7LB pressure suit variants that accompanied those earlier astronauts to the Moon, and later to Skylab, has since gone on to signify for many the definitive, iconic symbol of humanity’s most ambitiously-realized space dreams.

With Artemis’ 2024 launch target approaching, NASA’s original Moon suit could soon be supplanted in the minds of a new generation of space dreamers with the xEMU, the first ground-up suit made for exploring the lunar landscape since Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt took humanity’s last Moon walk (to date). Unlike those suits, the xEMU’s design is getting an assist from a source of “brain” power that simply wasn’t available back then: artificial intelligence.

Jul 1, 2020

Toward principles of gene regulation in multicellular systems

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

A team of quantitative biology researchers from Northwestern University have uncovered new insights into the impact of stochasticity in gene expression, offering new evolutionary clues into organismal design principles in the face of physical constraints.

In cells, are expressed through transcription, a process where genetic information encoded in DNA is copied into messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA is then translated to make , the workhorses of cells. This entire process is subject to bursts of natural stochasticity—or randomness—which can impact the outcome of biological processes that proteins carry out.

The researchers’ new experimental and theoretical analyses studied a collection of genes in Drosophila, a family of fruit flies, and found that gene expression is regulated by the frequency of these transcriptional bursts.

Jul 1, 2020

Mystery as hundreds of elephants found dead

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Mystery surrounds the “completely unprecedented” deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana over the last two months.

Dr Niall McCann said colleagues in the southern African country had spotted more than 350 elephant carcasses in the Okavango Delta since the start of May.

But they have been unable to rule out either poisoning or disease. The way the animals appear to be dying — many dropping on their faces — and sightings of other elephants walking in circles points to something potentially attacking their neurological systems, Dr McCann said.