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Aug 6, 2020

Sanofi, GSK Pursue COVID-19 Vaccine Trials with $2.1B from “Warp Speed”

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will be awarded up to $2.1 billion by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Defense (DoD) toward development and manufacturing of the recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine being produced by the companies, they and the U.S. government said.

HHS and DoD are providing the funding as part of Operation Warp Speed—the program through which President Donald Trump’s administration has committed the nation to delivering 300 million vaccine doses protecting against SARS-CoV-2 by January 2021.

“The portfolio of vaccines being assembled for Operation Warp Speed increases the odds that we will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar II stated.

Aug 6, 2020

Social bonds in adulthood don’t mediate early life trauma

Posted by in categories: biological, health

When baboons experience trauma in early life, they have higher levels of stress hormones in adulthood—a potential marker of poor health—than their peers who don’t experience trauma, even if they have strong social relationships as adults, according to a study led by a University of Michigan researcher.

The study examined the links between childhood adversity, adult social relationships and glucocorticoid concentrations. The goal was to determine whether one of the reasons that baboons who experience early trauma live shorter, less healthy lives was because they fail to develop strong social relationships in adulthood, which could be beneficial to health.

U-M biological anthropologist Stacy Rosenbaum and her co-authors found that while early life adversity didn’t strongly affect baboons’ ability to have social relationships, any positive effect of those relationships was much smaller than the large negative effects of early life trauma.

Aug 6, 2020

Virgin Galactic unveils Mach 3 aircraft design

Posted by in category: space travel

Aerospace company Virgin Galactic has announced a first stage design scope for the build of a new aircraft capable of reaching speeds of Mach 3 (3,700 km/h, or 2,300 mph).

Rolls-Royce will collaborate with The Spaceship Company (TSC) – a subsidiary of Virgin Galactic – in designing and developing the engine propulsion technology for this high-speed commercial plane. This follows the successful completion of a Mission Concept Review (MCR) that included representatives from NASA and resulted in authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It means the companies can now work together to produce a certification framework.

Rolls-Royce has a proven track record of delivering high Mach propulsion, powering the only civil-certified commercial aircraft capable of supersonic flight – Concorde, which flew from 1969 to 2003. This new plane, if successfully developed and put into operation, would be more than 50% faster than Concorde. Journeys across the Atlantic, which typically take almost eight hours in a conventional airliner, could be completed in less than two hours.

Aug 6, 2020

Try This at Home! Fusion in the Basement

Posted by in category: futurism

By day, Carl Greninger is a Microsoft IT manager. By night, he’s a fusioneer who inspires students to master fusion science

Aug 6, 2020

Fossil mystery solved: Super-long-necked reptiles lived in the ocean, not on land

Posted by in category: futurism

A fossil called Tanystropheus was first described in 1852, and it’s been puzzling scientists ever since. At one point, paleontologists thought it was a flying pterosaur, like a pterodactyl, and that its long, hollow bones were phalanges in the finger that supported the wing. Later on, they figured out that those were elongated neck bones, and that it was a twenty-foot-long reptile with a ten-foot neck: three times as long as its torso. Scientists still weren’t sure if it lived on land or in the water, and they didn’t know if smaller specimens were juveniles or a completely different species—until now. By CT-scanning the fossils’ crushed skulls and digitally reassembling them, researchers found evidence that the animals were water-dwelling, and by examining the growth rings in bones, determined that the big and little Tanystropheus were separate species that could live alongside each other without competing because they hunted different prey.

“I’ve been studying Tanystropheus for over thirty years, so it’s extremely satisfying to see these creatures demystified,” says Olivier Rieppel, a paleontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago and one of the authors of a new paper in Current Biology detailing the discovery.

Tanystropheus lived 242 million years ago, during the middle Triassic. On land, dinosaurs were just starting to emerge, and the sea was ruled by giant reptiles. For a long time, though, scientists weren’t sure whether Tanystropheus lived on land or in the water. Its bizarre body didn’t make things clear one way or the other.

Aug 6, 2020

Scientists Propose Adding Psychoactive Drug to our Water Supplies

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

It’s also worth noting that some water already naturally contains low amounts of lithium. And in research published last week in The British Journal of Psychiatry, scientists from a cohort of U.K. universities identified a link that naturally-present lithium and lower suicide rates.

Therefore, they suggest, more lives could be saved by putting the drug in high-risk communities’ water supplies.

“In these unprecedented times of COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent increase in the incidence of mental health conditions, accessing ways to improve community mental health and reduce the incidence of anxiety, depression and suicide is ever more important,” Anjum Memon, lead author and epidemiology chair at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said in a press release.

Aug 6, 2020

Valley formation on early Mars

Posted by in category: space

The southern highlands of Mars are dissected by hundreds of valley networks, which are evidence that water once sculpted the surface.

Some valleys in the southern highlands of Mars may have formed by subglacial erosion, consistent with a cold and icy early Mars, according to a statistical analysis of valley morphometry.

Aug 6, 2020

Police dog finds missing mom and baby during his first shift on the force

Posted by in category: futurism

Max’s human handler said the dog was “invaluable” in finding the mom and 1-year-old, who were missing for two days.

Aug 6, 2020

New fossil discovery shows how ancient ‘hell ants’ hunted with headgear

Posted by in category: existential risks

In findings published Aug. 6 in the journal Current Biology, researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Rennes in France have unveiled a stunning 99-million-year-old fossil pristinely preserving an enigmatic insect predator from the Cretaceous Period—a ‘hell ant’ (haidomyrmecine)—as it embraced its unsuspecting final victim, an extinct relative of the cockroach known as Caputoraptor elegans.

The ancient encounter, locked in amber recovered from Myanmar, offers a detailed glimpse at a newly identified prehistoric ant species Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri, and presents some of the first direct evidence showing how it and other hell ants once used their killer features—snapping their bizarre, but deadly, scythe-like mandibles in a vertical motion to pin prey against their horn-like appendages.

Researchers say the rare fossil demonstrating the hell ant’s feeding mode offers a possible evolutionary explanation for its unusual morphology and highlights a key difference between some of the earliest ant relatives and their modern counterparts, which today uniformly feature mouthparts that grasp by moving together laterally. The hell ant lineage, along with their striking predatory traits, are suspected to have vanished along with many other early ant groups during periods of ecological change around the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 65 million years ago.

Aug 6, 2020

Spacecraft of the Future Could Be Powered By Lattice Confinement Fusion

Posted by in categories: particle physics, space travel

NASA researchers demonstrate the ability to fuse atoms inside room-temperature metals.