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Sep 12, 2019

Study finds the universe might be 2 billion years younger

Posted by in category: space

The universe is looking younger every day, it seems.

New calculations suggest the could be a couple billion years younger than scientists now estimate, and even younger than suggested by two other calculations published this year that trimmed hundreds of millions of years from the age of the cosmos.

The huge swings in scientists’ estimates—even this new calculation could be off by billions of years—reflect to the tricky problem of figuring the universe’s real age.

Sep 12, 2019

Earth’s Magnetic Field Initiated a Pole Flip Many Millennia before the Switch

Posted by in category: futurism

Lava flow records and sedimentary and Antarctic ice core data show evidence of planetary magnetic field activity 20,000 years before the beginning of the last pole reversal.

Full Transcript

Earth’s magnetic field—which creates our planet’s north and south pole—is far from fixed. In fact, the field is quite active; sometimes it weakens, and even reverses, causing Earth’s polarity to switch. These periods of instability don’t happen very often, though—only about every 100,000 to million years. That’s part of why this phenomenon has largely remained a mystery for scientists. However, a recent study may help researchers better understand how long and how complicated Earth’s magnetic field reversals really are.

Sep 12, 2019

Gene-editing shows promise as HIV cure in early tests

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Scientists are reporting the first use of the gene-editing tool CRISPR to try to cure a patient’s HIV infection by providing blood cells that were altered to resist the AIDS virus.

The gene-editing tool has long been used in research labs and a Chinese scientist was scorned last year when he revealed he used it on embryos that led to the birth of twin girls. Editing embryos is considered too risky, partly because the DNA changes can pass to future generations.

Wednesday’s report in the New England Journal of Medicine, by different Chinese researchers, is the first published account of using CRISPR to treat a disease in an adult, where the DNA changes are confined to that person.

Sep 12, 2019

Black Holes May Hide Cores of Pure Dark Energy That Keep The Universe Expanding

Posted by in category: cosmology

A fifty-year-old hypothesis predicting the existence of bodies dubbed Generic Objects of Dark Energy (GEODEs) is getting a second look in light of a proposed correction to assumptions we use to model the way our Universe expands.

If this new version of a classic cosmological model is correct, some black holes could hide cores of pure dark energy, pushing our Universe apart at the seams.

University of Hawai’i astrophysicist Kevin Croker and mathematician Joel Weiner teamed up to challenge the broadly accepted notion that when it comes to the Universe’s growing waistline, its contents are largely irrelevant.

Sep 12, 2019

Is the Universe Actually a Giant Quantum Computer?

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, humor, quantum physics, space

According to MIT professor Seth Lloyd, the answer is yes. We could be living in the kind of digital world depicted in The Matrix, and not even know it.

A researcher in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, Lloyd is one of the leaders in the field of quantum information. He’s been with the field from its very conception to its sky-rocketing rise to popularity. Decades ago, the feasibility of developing quantum computing devices was challenged. Now, as quantum computation is producing actual technologies, we are only left to wonder—what kind of applications will it provide us with next?

But, first things first. In a round-table discussion with undergraduates, Lloyd speaks of his early days in the field with a touch of humor, irony, and most surprisingly—pride. When he just started to research quantum information in graduate school, most scientists told him to look into other areas. In fact, out of the postdoctoral programs he considered, not many were too invested in researching of information in quantum mechanics. Most universities and institutes were reluctant to take up quantum computing, but Murray Gell-Mann accepted Lloyd for a position at the California Institute of Technology. This is where many ideas behind quantum computation were born, and Lloyd is “excited by the popularity of the field today.”

Sep 12, 2019

Conquering the Challenge of Isolation in Space: NASA’s Human Research Program Director Receives National Recognition

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

On a recent afternoon at the Johnson Space Center, Bill Paloski, Ph.D., Director of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP), commented on HRP’s mission to protect the health and safety of astronauts. He reflected on some of the human hazards of space, including radiation, isolation and confinement, distance from Earth, altered gravity, and hostile/closed environments.

“We still have a lot to learn about these hazards,” says Paloski. “For instance, how long does it take for space radiation to damage the human body? When you’re isolated, and can’t get home or talk to your family, how long can you stay positive? NASA’s Human Research Program exists to ensure the safety of brave people who are navigating unfamiliar territory in very stressful conditions. We need this program and its research teams to develop strategies to protect our explorers and pioneers who represent the front line of our nation’s space program.”

Paloski’s dedication to improving the lives of this “front line” has provided benefit to other sectors of the federal government, including those who serve the nation in high-risk missions and those in our military services. In recognition of these benefits, Paloski recently received the prestigious Robert M. Yerkes Award for significant contributions to military psychology by a non-psychologist.

Sep 12, 2019

An important quantum algorithm may actually be a property of nature

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics, information science, quantum physics

Evidence that quantum searches are an ordinary feature of electron behavior may explain the genetic code, one of the greatest puzzles in biology.

Sep 12, 2019

SpaceX says it will deploy satellite broadband across US faster than expected

Posted by in category: satellites

SpaceX will reorganize orbits to cover more of the US in initial deployment.

Sep 12, 2019

The Gravitational-Wave “Revolution” Is Underway

Posted by in category: futurism

As the fourth anniversary of the first detection approaches, the field continues to mature—with a bright future ahead.

Sep 12, 2019

Fight or Flight May Be in Our Bones

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

In the face of fear, whether it be caused by a grizzly bear or an audience waiting to hear you speak, your body initiates a reaction to stress. The breath quickens, the pupils dilate, the heart begins to pound. These automatic responses occur as a part of the so-called fight-or-flight response, the body’s evolved mechanism to threats around us. Scientists have known for decades that this reaction is triggered by hormones released by the adrenal glands, two cone-shaped organs…

A protein released from bone is involved in triggering the body’s reaction to stress.