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Feb 18, 2020

New Exoplanet Search Strategy Claims First Discovery

Posted by in category: space

By watching for a special kind of flare, astronomers have identified the fingerprints of an Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star.

Feb 18, 2020

The Fastest Spinning Object Ever Could Detect the Elusive Vacuum Friction

Posted by in category: particle physics

Scientists at Purdue University have made the fastest spinning object ever, a tiny ball of silicon dioxide that rotates 300 billion times per second. They positioned the microscopic silica balls in a vacuum and blasted them with two different lasers that induce the spin.

In 2018, scientists at the Institute for Photonics at ETH Zurich (a small, elite science university) created the first billion-RPM object and said they hoped it would accelerate, so to speak, the discovery of wild and unpredictable things. And that has certainly borne out, because the Purdue team has shown that even in a near vacuum, the spinning silica particles create measurable friction.

Feb 18, 2020

Correcting the jitters in quantum devices

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, quantum physics

Labs around the world are racing to develop new computing and sensing devices that operate on the principles of quantum mechanics and could offer dramatic advantages over their classical counterparts. But these technologies still face several challenges, and one of the most significant is how to deal with “noise”—random fluctuations that can eradicate the data stored in such devices.

A new approach developed by researchers at MIT could provide a significant step forward in quantum correction. The method involves fine-tuning the system to address the kinds of noise that are the most likely, rather than casting a broad net to try to catch all possible sources of disturbance.

The analysis is described in the journal Physical Review Letters, in a paper by MIT graduate student David Layden, postdoc Mo Chen, and professor of nuclear science and engineering Paola Cappellaro.

Feb 18, 2020

SpaceX signs deal to fly 4 space tourists around Earth in about two years

Posted by in category: space travel

SpaceX will fly four privately-paying space tourists to orbit in its Crew Dragon capsule, the company unveiled on Tuesday.

“This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it, and we are pleased to work with the Space Adventures’ team on the mission,” SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.

The customers will be brokered through Space Adventures, a company that’s flown private citizens to the International Space Station using Russian spacecraft. The firm said this Crew Dragon mission will allow four individuals to “see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program” of the 1960s.

Feb 18, 2020

The mystery of millipede mating revealed in landmark imaging study

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education

A team of US scientists has just solved a long-standing biological mystery – how exactly do millipedes mate? Using a variety of novel imaging methods, including microscopic ultraviolet photography and micro-CT scanning, the research finally figured out how these tiny creatures get it on.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to understand these millipedes’ mechanism of insertion, how the male and female organs interact with each other,” says Petra Sierwald, from Chicago’s Field Museum and one of the study’s authors. “Before this, we had no idea how he would actually get the sperm into her.”

Millipedes can generally be somewhat shy organisms, so getting them to mate in laboratory conditions hasn’t been easy. The new study focused on a type of small, brown North American millipede called Pseudopolydesmus, known for being more than willing to mate, even in the most exhibitionist situations.

Feb 18, 2020

Body composting promises a sustainable way of death

Posted by in category: sustainability

The science behind turning your body into fertile soil.

Feb 18, 2020

Psychedelic drugs may transform mental health care. And big business is ready to profit from the revolution

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, neuroscience

Silicon Valley legends. Billionaire financiers. Patent attorneys. They’re all awakening to the massive potential of an industry preparing to emerge from darkness.

Feb 18, 2020

China is disinfecting and destroying cash to contain the coronavirus

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to batter China, the country’s central bank has implemented a new strategy to contain the virus — deep cleaning and destroying potentially infected cash.

The new measures, announced by the People’s Bank of China on Saturday, aim to contain the spread of the virus, officially known as Covid-19. There is still a lot unknown about the virus, which has infected more than 71,000 people globally and killed 1,775, the majority in China — but it appears to survive for at least several hours on surfaces, according to the World Health Organization.

This is why buildings in affected areas are regularly disinfecting elevator buttons, door handles, and other commonly-touched surfaces — and why people are worried about cash, which changes hands multiple times a day.

Feb 18, 2020

Farms inside shipping containers could grow more local produce

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI, sustainability

“It’s a 320-square-foot shipping container like you would see on a boat, a train, a truck, outfitted with an automated growing system,” he says, “to grow about 3.5 acres worth of produce with no pesticides, no herbicides, and about 98.5% less water.” Inside the Greenery, plants grow vertically, with their roots in a nutrient solution instead of soil. Sensors, pumps, and LED lights automatically maintain ideal growing conditions, so you don’t have to be an expert to start farming. “You plug it in and you’re growing same day,” McNamara says.


The crops grow vertically under LED lights.

Feb 18, 2020

10 Reasons to Build The Human Genome From Scratch

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The Human Genome Project launched in 1990 with the goal to read genomes. Now scientists are working to write them.