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Nov 29, 2019

Scientists find ‘monster’ black hole so big they didn’t think it was possible

Posted by in category: cosmology

Before now, scientists did not think it was possible for a stellar black hole to have a mass larger than 20 times that of the sun, an approximation based on their understanding of the way stars evolve and die in the Milky Way.

But that assumption was metaphorically crushed in the gravity of a “monster” black hole that a group of Chinese-led international scientists discovered inside our own galaxy. The hole has a mass 70 times that of the sun, researchers said in their study published in the journal Nature.

Nov 29, 2019

Mapping our galaxy’s magnetic field

Posted by in categories: mapping, space

Astronomers from CSIRO and Curtin University have used pulsars to probe the Milky Way’s magnetic field. Working with colleagues in Europe, Canada, and South Africa, they have published the most precise catalogue of measurements towards mapping our Galaxy’s magnetic field in 3D.

The Milky Way’s is thousands of times weaker than Earth’s, but is of great significance for tracing the paths of cosmic rays, star formation, and many other astrophysical processes. However, our knowledge of the Milky Way’s 3D structure is limited.

Dr. Charlotte Sobey, the lead author of the research paper, said “We used pulsars (rapidly-rotating neutron stars) to efficiently probe the Galaxy’s magnetic field in 3D. Pulsars are distributed throughout the Milky Way, and the intervening material in the Galaxy affects their radio-wave emission.”

Nov 29, 2019

Cowlitz County PUD among U.S. utilities targeted in cyberattacks

Posted by in category: cybercrime/malcode

The Cowlitz County PUD is among more than a dozen utilities targeted in a recent cyberattack across the United States, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal published this week.

Cowlitz County PUD spokeswoman Alice Dietz confirmed Wednesday that the PUD’s firewall successfully blocked the only infected email that hackers sent.

“We’re proud of our IT department,” Dietz said. “They just continue to implement strong cybersecurity measures. This is a great example of why we take it so seriously.”

Nov 29, 2019

Zimbabwe ‘on brink of man-made starvation’, UN warns

Posted by in category: economics

Many people can only afford one meal a day amid an economic collapse, a top UN official says.

Nov 29, 2019

Tesla Wants to Replace Windshield Wipers With Lasers

Posted by in category: futurism

Somehow this is the least questionable thing the company did this month.

Nov 29, 2019

New Studies Show What Sleep Loss Does To The Brain And Cognition

Posted by in category: neuroscience

Sleep loss is no longer considered an emblem of productivity or success—research has shown over and over that it’s one of the worst things we can do for ourselves. The body may not need sleep so much, but the brain sure does: a huge amount of housekeeping is done while we’re sleeping, and losing sleep, especially chronically, prevents this essential work. Two new studies illustrate what sleep loss does to our thinking skills the next day and to the brain’s ability to clear out potentially dangerous “gunk.”

The first study, from Michigan State University, had 77 people stay awake all night in the lab and 63 go home and sleep normally. All the participants were rested before the study began, and then separated into their respective groups for one night of sleep deprivation or normal rest. The researchers gave them tests of attention (the Psychomotor Vigilance Task) and cognition (the UNRAVEL method, which involves having to keep track of a series of steps in the face of period interruptions) in the evening and again the following morning.

The sleep-deprived participants did conspicuously worse on the tests than the rested ones: The evening before, there was about a 15% error rate after interruptions on the UNRAVEL test, which the next morning rose to 30%. In contrast, the rested group performed about the same in the evening before and the morning after. The sleep-deprived also had significantly more lapses in attention the morning after, compared to the rested group.

Nov 29, 2019

Our place in the universe will change dramatically in the next 50 years – here’s how

Posted by in categories: physics, space

In 1900, so the story goes, prominent physicist Lord Kelvin addressed the British Association for the Advancement of Science with these words: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.”

How wrong he was. The following century completely turned physics on its head. A huge number of theoretical and experimental discoveries have transformed our understanding of the universe, and our place within it.

Don’t expect the next century to be any different. The universe has many mysteries that still remain to be uncovered—and new technologies will help us to solve them over the next 50 years.

Nov 29, 2019

Flexoskeleton printing: Fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

Posted by in categories: cyborgs, robotics/AI

Insects typically have a variety of complex exoskeleton structures, which support them in their movements and everyday activities. Fabricating artificial exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots that match the complexity of these naturally-occurring structures is a key challenge in the field of robotics.

Although researchers have proposed several and techniques to produce exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots, many of these methods are extremely complex or rely on expensive equipment and materials. This makes them unfeasible and difficult to apply on a wider scale.

With this in mind, researchers at the University of California in San Diego have recently developed a new process to design and fabricate components for insect-inspired robots with structures. They introduced this process, called flexoskeleton printing, in a paper prepublished on arXiv.

Nov 29, 2019

A New Crispr Technique Could Fix Almost All Genetic Diseases

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Anzalone’s prime editor is a little different. Its enzyme is actually two that have been fused together—a molecule that acts like a scalpel combined with something called a reverse transcriptase, which converts RNA into DNA. His RNA guide is a little different too: It not only finds the DNA in need of fixing, but also carries a copy of the edit to be made. When it locates its target DNA, it makes a little nick, and the reverse transcriptase starts adding the corrected sequence of DNA letter by letter, like the strikers on a typewriter.

A less error-prone DNA editing method could correct many more harmful mutations than was previously possible.

Nov 29, 2019

Beating cancer: How viruses are being used to infect and kill tumours

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical

We’ve long known that viruses can target cancers in our bodies. Now, thanks to gene editing, we’re using them as tumour search and destroy agents – and getting our immune systems to join the fight too.