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Nobel Winner Steven Weinberg, Who Unified Two of Physics' Fundamental Forces, Has Died

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 15:34
Long-time Slashdot reader Mogster quotes : Steven Weinberg, a Nobel-prize winning physicist whose work helped link two of the four fundamental forces, has died at the age of 88, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) announced Saturday (July 24). HIs work was foundational to the Standard Model, the overarching physics theory that describes how subatomic particles behave. His seminal work was a slim, three-page paper published in 1967 in the journal Physical Review Letters and entitled "A Model of Leptons." In it, he predicted how subatomic particles known as W, Z and the famous Higgs boson should behave — years before those particles were detected experimentally, according to a statement from UT Austin. The paper also helped unify the electromagnetic force and the weak force and predicted that so-called "neutral weak currents" governed how particles would interact, according to the statement. In 1979, Weinberg and physicists Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam earned the Nobel Prize in physics for this work. Throughout his life, Weinberg would continue his search for a unified theory that would unite all four forces, according to the statement. Weinberg also wrote a book called "The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe" — in 1977.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Carries a US Military Satellite Into Orbit

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 12:34
"Resuming launches after a mission failure two months ago, Rocket Lab successfully placed a small U.S. military research and development satellite into orbit Thursday following a fiery liftoff from New Zealand..." reports Spaceflight Now: Heading east from Mahia, the rocket's first stage burned its nine engines for about two-and-a-half minutes, followed by a six-minute firing of the second stage engine to reach a preliminary parking orbit. A kick stage deployed from the the Electron rocket's second stage... Rocket Lab, a California-based company founded in New Zealand, confirmed a good deployment of the U.S. military's small experimental Monolith spacecraft about 52 minutes after liftoff. "Payload deployed, flawless launch and mission by the team!" tweeted Peter Beck, Rocket Lab's founder and CEO. The mission was the 21st flight of a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle since 2017, and the eighth to carry a payload for a U.S. military or intelligence agency customer. It was also the first Rocket Lab mission since May 15, when an Electron rocket failed before reaching orbit with two commercial BlackSky Earth-imaging satellites... The May 15 mission was the third time an Electron rocket failed to reach orbit on 20 attempts since 2017.

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What's happening inside Simone Biles' brain when the 'twisties' set in?

Live Science - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 11:38
Here's what happens inside Simone Biles' brain when the twisties set in. And for a gymnast like her, the disorientation can be dangerous, experts say.

Early Virus Sequences 'Mysteriously' Deleted Have Been Not-So-Mysteriously Undeleted

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 11:34
"A batch of early coronavirus data that went missing for a year has emerged from hiding," reports the New York Times. (Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, had found copies of 13 of the deleted sequences on Google Cloud.) Though their deletion raised some suspicions, "An odd explanation has emerged, stemming from an editorial oversight by a scientific journal," reports the Times. "And the sequences have been uploaded into a different database, overseen by the Chinese government." The Times also notes that the researchers had already posted their early findings online in March 2020: That month, they also uploaded the sequences to an online database called the Sequence Read Archive, which is maintained by the National Institutes of Health, and submitted a paper describing their results to a scientific journal called Small. The paper was published in June 2020... [A] spokeswoman for the N.I.H. said that the authors of the study had requested in June 2020 that the sequences be withdrawn from the database. The authors informed the agency that the sequences were being updated and would be added to a different database... On July 5, more than a year after the researchers withdrew the sequences from the Sequence Read Archive and two weeks after Dr. Bloom's report was published online, the sequences were quietly uploaded to a database maintained by China National Center for Bioinformation by Ben Hu, a researcher at Wuhan University and a co-author of the Small paper. On July 21, the disappearance of the sequences was brought up during a news conference in Beijing... According to a translation of the news conference by a journalist at the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency, the vice minister of China's National Health Commission, Dr. Zeng Yixin, said that the trouble arose when editors at Small deleted a paragraph in which the scientists described the sequences in the Sequence Read Archive. "Therefore, the researchers thought it was no longer necessary to store the data in the N.C.B.I. database," Dr. Zeng said, referring to the Sequence Read Archive, which is run by the N.I.H. An editor at Small, which specializes in science at the micro and nano scale and is based in Germany, confirmed his account. "The data availability statement was mistakenly deleted," the editor, Plamena Dogandzhiyski, wrote in an email. "We will issue a correction very shortly, which will clarify the error and include a link to the depository where the data is now hosted." The journal posted a formal correction to that effect on Thursday. While the researchers' first report had described their sequences as coming from patients "early in the epidemic," thus provoking intense curiosity, the sequences were, as promised, updated, to include a more specific date after they were published in the database, according to the Times. "They were taken from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University on January 30 — almost two months after the earliest reports of Covid-19 in China."

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What's the hottest temperature the human body can endure?

Live Science - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 06:00
Here's the highest temperature and humidity level that people can tolerate.

Wearable devices could use your breathing patterns like a password

New Scientist - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 03:00
Subtle patterns in the way we breathe can be used to generate a secure password to keep paired smartwatches and smart phones safe from hackers

Bendy camera the width of a human hair can take accurate 3D images

New Scientist - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 03:00
A tiny flexible camera made from an extremely thin fibre-optic cable can transmit accurate 3D images in real time. It could eventually be used in surgery or surveillance

Government Denies Blue Origin's Challenge To NASA's Lunar Lander Program

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 31/07/2021 - 02:00
The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Friday denied protests from companies affiliated with Jeff Bezos that NASA wrongly awarded a lucrative astronaut lunar lander contract solely to Elon Musk's SpaceX. CNBC reports: "NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award ... the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable, and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation, and the announcement's terms," GAO managing associate general counsel Kenneth Patton wrote in a statement. The GAO ruling backs the space agency's surprise announcement in April that NASA awarded SpaceX with a contract worth about $2.9 billion. SpaceX was competing with Blue Origin and Dynetics for what was expected to be two contracts, before NASA only awarded a single contract due to a lower-than-expected allocation for the program from Congress. NASA, in a statement, said that the GAO decision will allow the agency "to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in more than 50 years." "As soon as possible, NASA will provide an update on the way ahead for Artemis, the human landing system, and humanity's return to the Moon. We will continue to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to ensure funding for a robust and sustainable approach for the nation's return to the Moon in a collaborative effort with U.S. commercial partners," the U.S. space agency said. A Blue Origin spokesperson told CNBC that the company still believes "there were fundamental issues with NASA's decision, but the GAO wasn't able to address them due to their limited jurisdiction." "We'll continue to advocate for two immediate providers as we believe it is the right solution," Blue Origin said. "The Human Landing System program needs to have competition now instead of later -- that's the best solution for NASA and the best solution for our country."

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Virtual Contact Worse Than No Contact For Over-60s In Lockdown, Says Study

Slashdot - Science - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Virtual contact during the pandemic made many over-60s feel lonelier and more depressed than no contact at all, new research has found. Many older people stayed in touch with family and friends during lockdown using the phone, video calls, and other forms of virtual contact. Zoom choirs, online book clubs and virtual bedtime stories with grandchildren helped many stave off isolation. But the study, among the first to comparatively assess social interactions across households and mental wellbeing during the pandemic, found many older people experienced a greater increase in loneliness and long-term mental health disorders as a result of the switch to online socializing than those who spent the pandemic on their own. The problem [said Dr Yang Hu of Lancaster University, who co-wrote the report, published on Monday in Frontiers in Sociology] was that older people unfamiliar with technology found it stressful to learn how to use it. But even those who were familiar with technology often found the extensive use of the medium over lockdown so stressful that it was more damaging to their mental health than simply coping with isolation and loneliness. "Extensive exposure to digital means of communication can also cause burnout. The results are very consistent," said Hu, who collected data from 5,148 people aged 60 or over in the UK and 1,391 in the US -- both before and during the pandemic. "It's not only loneliness that was made worse by virtual contact, but general mental health: these people were more depressed, more isolated and felt more unhappy as a direct result of their use of virtual contact," he said. "We need to have disaster preparedness," he said. "We need to equip older people with the digital capacity to be able to use technology for the next time a disaster like this comes around." Hu added: "Policymakers and practitioners need to take measures to pre-empt and mitigate the potential unintended implications of household-centerd pandemic responses for mental wellbeing."

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New Exotic Matter Particle, a Tetraquark, Discovered

Slashdot - Science - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 16:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Today, the LHCb experiment at CERN is presenting a new discovery at the European Physical Society Conference on High Energy Physics (EPS-HEP). The new particle discovered by LHCb, labeled as Tcc+, is a tetraquark -- an exotic hadron containing two quarks and two antiquarks. It is the longest-lived exotic matter particle ever discovered, and the first to contain two heavy quarks and two light antiquarks. Quarks are the fundamental building blocks from which matter is constructed. They combine to form hadrons, namely baryons, such as the proton and the neutron, which consist of three quarks, and mesons, which are formed as quark-antiquark pairs. In recent years a number of so-called exotic hadrons -- particles with four or five quarks, instead of the conventional two or three -- have been found. Today's discovery is of a particularly unique exotic hadron, an exotic exotic hadron if you like. The new particle contains two charm quarks and an up and a down antiquark. Several tetraquarks have been discovered in recent years (including one with two charm quarks and two charm antiquarks), but this is the first one that contains two charm quarks, without charm antiquarks to balance them. Physicists call this "open charm" (in this case, "double open charm"). Particles containing a charm quark and a charm antiquark have "hidden charm" -- the charm quantum number for the whole particle adds up to zero, just like a positive and a negative electrical charge would do. Here the charm quantum number adds up to two, so it has twice the charm! The quark content of Tcc+, has other interesting features besides being open charm. It is the first particle to be found that belongs to a class of tetraquarks with two heavy quarks and two light antiquarks. Such particles decay by transforming into a pair of mesons, each formed by one of the heavy quarks and one of the light antiquarks. According to some theoretical predictions, the mass of tetraquarks of this type should be very close to the sum of masses of the two mesons. Such proximity in mass makes the decay "difficult," resulting in a longer lifetime of the particle, and indeed Tcc+, is the longest-lived exotic hadron found to date.

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In the absence of genetic variation, asexual invasive species find new methods of adapting to their environment

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
New research has found that two types of weevils, common yet invasive beetles in many parts of the world, have been using epigenetic changes to adapt and respond to different toxins in the plants they eat. The findings have implications for how we consider asexual invaders and how successful they can be because of gene regulation.

Astronomers probe layer-cake structure of brown dwarf’s atmosphere

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
Astronomers have developed a new way to capture all the exquisite 'layer-cake' details of a brown dwarf's cloud structure. Because brown dwarfs are similar to super-Jupiters, this innovative technique can help deepen scientists' understanding of the atmospheres of giant alien worlds that are more massive than Jupiter.

The environment for permafrost in Daisetsu Mountains in Japan is projected to decrease significantly

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
Areas with climatic conditions suitable for sustaining permafrost in the Daisetsu Mountains are projected. The size of the area in the Daisetsu Mountains where climatic conditions were suitable for permafrost were estimated to be approximately 150 km2 in 2010. Under the business-as-usual scenario, this area is projected to disappear by around 2070. Under the low-carbon scenario consistent with Paris target scenario, the area is projected to decrease to approximately 13% of 2010 by 2100.

Radio-wave therapy is safe for liver cancer patients and shows improvement in overall survival, study suggests

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
Researchers have shown that a targeted therapy using non-thermal radio waves is safe to use in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, according to a new study. The therapy also showed a benefit in overall survival.

'Greening' biomaterials and scaffolds used in regenerative medicine

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
In the biomaterials industry, electrospinning is a ubiquitous fabrication method used to produce nano- to microscale fibrous meshes that closely resemble native tissue architecture. Alas, the process has traditionally used solvents that not only are environmentally hazardous but also a significant barrier to industrial scale-up, clinical translation, and widespread use. But now, researchers report that they have developed a 'green electrospinning' process that addresses those challenges, from managing environmental risks of volatile solvent storage and disposal at large volumes to meeting health and safety standards during both fabrication and implementation.

Early COVID-19 symptoms differ among age groups, research finds

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
Symptoms for early COVID-19 infection differ among age groups and between men and women, new research has found.

Bird brains left other dinosaurs behind

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 15:54
Research on a newly discovered bird fossil found that a unique brain shape may be why the ancestors of living birds survived the mass extinction that claimed all other known dinosaurs.

A Time Crystal Finally Made Real

Slashdot - Science - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 14:03
In a preprint posted online Thursday night, researchers at Google in collaboration with physicists at Stanford, Princeton and other universities say that they have used Google's quantum computer to demonstrate a genuine "time crystal" for the first time. From a report: A novel phase of matter that physicists have strived to realize for many years, a time crystal is an object whose parts move in a regular, repeating cycle, sustaining this constant change without burning any energy. "The consequence is amazing: You evade the second law of thermodynamics," said co-author Roderich Moessner, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany. That's the law that says disorder always increases. Time crystals are also the first objects to spontaneously break "time-translation symmetry," the usual rule that a stable object will remain the same throughout time. A time crystal is both stable and ever-changing, with special moments that come at periodic intervals in time. The time crystal is a new category of phases of matter, expanding the definition of what a phase is. All other known phases, like water or ice, are in thermal equilibrium: Their constituent atoms have settled into the state with the lowest energy permitted by the ambient temperature, and their properties don't change with time. The time crystal is the first "out-of-equilibrium" phase: It has order and perfect stability despite being in an excited and evolving state. "This is just this completely new and exciting space that we're working in now," said Vedika Khemani, a condensed matter physicist now at Stanford who co-discovered the novel phase while she was a graduate student and co-authored the new paper.

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How 350 vaccinated people caught COVID-19 in huge Cape Cod outbreak

Live Science - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 13:41
The outbreak has changed our understanding of the coronavirus delta variant.

Ultrafast X-ray provides new look at plasma discharge breakdown in water

Science Daily - Vie, 30/07/2021 - 13:20
Occurring faster than the speed of sound, the mystery behind the breakdown of plasma discharges in water is one step closer to being understood as researchers pursue applying new diagnostic processes using state-of-the-art X-ray imaging to the challenging subject.

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