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Does drinking coffee help you live longer?

Live Science - Dom, 14/08/2022 - 04:00
Habitual coffee consumption may lower your risk of heart disease and death in a given time period, but the jury is still out on whether it promotes longevity.

Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Confirmed: California Team Achieved Ignition. Research Continues

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 20:34
"A major breakthrough in nuclear fusion has been confirmed a year after it was achieved at a laboratory in California," reports Newsweek: Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) recorded the first case of ignition on August 8, 2021, the results of which have now been published in three peer-reviewed papers.... Ignition during a fusion reaction essentially means that the reaction itself produced enough energy to be self-sustaining, which would be necessary in the use of fusion to generate electricity. If we could harness this reaction to generate electricity, it would be one of the most efficient and least polluting sources of energy possible. No fossil fuels would be required as the only fuel would be hydrogen, and the only by-product would be helium, which we use in industry and are actually in short supply of.... This landmark result comes after years of research and thousands of man hours dedicated to improving and perfecting the process: over 1,000 authors are included in the Physical Review Letters paper. This week the laboratory said that breakthrough now puts researchers "at the threshold of fusion gain and achieving scientific ignition," with the program's chief scientist calling it "a major scientific advance in fusion research, which establishes that fusion ignition in the lab is possible at the National Ignition Facility." More news from this week's announcement by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Since the experiment last August, the team has been executing a series of experiments to attempt to repeat the performance and to understand the experimental sensitivities in this new regime. "Many variables can impact each experiment," Kritcher said. "The 192 laser beams do not perform exactly the same from shot to shot, the quality of targets varies and the ice layer grows at differing roughness on each target...." While the repeat attempts have not reached the same level of fusion yield as the August 2021 experiment, all of them demonstrated capsule gain greater than unity with yields in the 430-700 kJ range, significantly higher than the previous highest yield of 170 kJ from February 2021. The data gained from these and other experiments are providing crucial clues as to what went right and what changes are needed in order to repeat that experiment and exceed its performance in the future. The team also is utilizing the experimental data to further understanding of the fundamental processes of fusion ignition and burn and to enhance simulation tools in support of stockpile stewardship. Looking ahead, the team is working to leverage the accumulated experimental data and simulations to move toward a more robust regime — further beyond the ignition cliff — where general trends found in this new experimental regime can be better separated from variability in targets and laser performance. Efforts to increase fusion performance and robustness are underway via improvements to the laser, improvements to the targets and modifications to the design that further improve energy delivery to the hotspot while maintaining or even increasing the hot-spot pressure. This includes improving the compression of the fusion fuel, increasing the amount of fuel and other avenues. "It is extremely exciting to have an 'existence proof' of ignition in the lab," said Omar Hurricane, chief scientist for the lab's inertial confinement fusion program. "We're operating in a regime that no researchers have accessed since the end of nuclear testing, and it's an incredible opportunity to expand our knowledge as we continue to make progress." Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader hesdeadjim99 for sharing the news.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Are Space Scientists Ready For Starship - the Biggest Rocket Ever?

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 18:10
Slashdot reader sciencehabit shared this thought-provoking anecdote from Science magazine: NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite mission was brutish and short. It began on 9 October 2009, when the hull of a spent Centaur rocket stage smashed into Cabeus crater, near the south pole of the Moon, with the force of about 2 tons of TNT. And it ended minutes later, when a trailing spacecraft flew through and analyzed the lofted plume of debris before it, too, crashed. About 6% of the plume was water, presumably from ice trapped in the shadowed depths of the crater, where the temperature never rises above -173ÂC. The Moon, it turned out, wasn't as bone dry as the Apollo astronauts believed. "That was our first ground truth that there is water ice," says Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center who worked on the mission. Today, Heldmann wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice — but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the workhorse of the Apollo missions. She dreams of delivering robotic excavators and drills and retrieving ice in freezers onboard Starship, which could return to Earth with tens of tons of cargo. By analyzing characteristics such as the ice's isotopic composition and its depth, she could learn about its origin: how much of it came from a bombardment of comets and asteroids billions of years ago versus slow, steady implantation by the solar wind. She could also find out where the ice is abundant and pure enough to support human outposts. "It's high-priority science, and it's also critical for exploration," Heldmann says. When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks up Starship, it's mostly about human exploration: Set up bases on Mars and make humans a multiplanetary species! Save civilization from extinction! But Heldmann and many others believe the heavy lifter could also radically change the way space scientists work. They could fly bigger and heavier instruments more often — and much more cheaply, if SpaceX's projections of cargo launch costs as low as $10 per kilogram are to be believed. On Mars, they could deploy rovers not as one-offs, but in herds. Space telescopes could grow, and fleets of satellites in low-Earth orbit could become commonplace. Astronomy, planetary science, and Earth observation could all boldly go, better than they ever have before. Of course, Starship isn't real yet. All eyes will be on a first orbital launch test, expected sometime in the coming months. Starship would've made it easier to deploy the massive James Webb Space Telescope, the article points out, while in the future Starship's extra fuel capacity could make it easier to explore Mercury, earth's outermost planets, and even interstellar space. In fact, Heldmann and colleagues have now suggested that NASA create a dedicated funding line for missions relying on Starship. Heldmann argues that "We on the science side need to be ready to take advantage of those capabilities when they come online." The article notes that at an event in February, Elon Musk "explained how a single Starship, launching three times per week, would loft more than 15,000 tons to orbit in a year — about as much as all the cargo that has been lifted in the entire history of spaceflight."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ransomware Causes 'Major', Long-Lasting Outage for UK Health Service's Patient Notes

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 16:54
The Independent reports that the UK's National Health System is experiencing a major outage "expected to last for more than three weeks" after a third-party supplying the NHS's "CareNotes" software was hit by ransomware. Unfortunately, this leaves doctors unable to see their notes on patients, and the mental health trusts that provide care "across the country will be left unable to access patient notes for weeks, and possibly months." Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has declared a critical incident over the outage, which is believed to affect dozens of trusts, and has told staff it is putting emergency plans in place. One NHS trust chief said the situation could possibly last for "months" with several mental health trusts, and there was concern among leaders that the problem is not being prioritised. In an email to staff, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Nick Broughton, said: "The cyberattack targeted systems used to refer patients for care, including ambulances being dispatched, out of hours appointment bookings, triage, out of hours care, emergency prescriptions and safety alerts. It also targeted the finance system used by the trust.... An NHS director said: "The whole thing is down. It's really alarming...we're carrying a lot of risk as a result of it because you can't get records and details of assessments, prescribing, key observations, medical mental health act observations. You can't see any of it...Staff are going to have to write everything down and input it later." They added: "There is increased risk to patients. We're finding it hard to discharge people, for example to housing providers, because we can't access records." "'Weeks' is an unreasonable period," argues Slashdot reader Bruce66423, wondering why it couldn't be resolved with a seemingly simple restore from backups? And Alan Woodward, a professor of cybersecurity at Surrey University, warns the Guardian that "Even if it was ransomware ... that doesn't mean data was not stolen."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Researchers Pinpointed Covid-19's Origin to Within a Few Metres

Slashdot - Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 15:40
Australia's public broadcaster interviewed a virologist who "played a key role in mapping the evolution of COVID-19" (and was also "the first person to release the sequence of SARS-CoV-2 to the world.") But interestingly, this Australian virologist also visited the Wuhan market in 2014, "and recognised the risk of virus transmission between animals and humans and suggested taking some samples." "While I was there, I noticed there were these live wildlife for sale, particularly raccoon dogs and ... muskrats" he said. "I took the photographs because I thought to myself: 'God, that's, that's not quite right'." Raccoon dogs had been associated with the emergence of a different coronavirus outbreak, SARS-CoV-1, in 2002-04, which became known worldwide as the SARS virus. Even in 2014, Professor Holmes believed the market could become a site of virus transmission between animals and humans. The monitoring that Professor Holmes suggested never took place but, in the early days of COVID-19, he was still convinced that a market like the one in Wuhan was the logical origin of the virus. "They are the kind of engine room of [this sort] of disease emergence ... because what you're doing is you're putting humans and wildlife in close proximity to each other," he said. The professor also describes the theory that the virus some how leaked from a Chinese lab as "horrendous, blame-game finger-pointing," noting that the nearest lab is miles away. And he cites other reasons the market is where the virus originated: Aside from the geographic clustering, he also points to the fact that two different strands emerged almost simultaneously in humans, something that is much more likely if the virus had already been mutating in animals. "They're sufficiently far apart that they were probably independent jumps. "It means there was a pool of infected animals in the market and it's mutated amongst them before it jumped to humans." All of this has led Professor Holmes to conclude that the question of how COVID-19 emerged is settled. "I'm extremely confident that the virus is not from a laboratory. I think that's just a nonsensical theory," he said. Detailed mapping of where samples were detected inside the Huanan seafood wholesale market allowed Professor Holmes and his colleagues to even pinpoint to a few square metres where COVID-19 was likely to have jumped between humans and animals. "It's extraordinary," he said. "And I took a photo in 2014 of one of the stalls that was the most positively tested in the whole market."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Which vegetables are good for diabetics?

Live Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 08:00
We take a look at the best and worst vegetables for diabetics, to give you a head start on your diabetes diet

What's the largest ocean that ever existed on Earth?

Live Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 05:00
Panthalassa, a single world ocean surrounding the supercontinent Pangaea, would have stretched at least 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers) wider than the Pacific.

Antikythera mechanism: Ancient celestial calculator

Live Science - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 04:00
Here's what researchers know about the ancient Antikythera mechanism, a celestial-tracking device discovered in a shipwreck off a Greek island.

Quantum computer made of 6 super-sized atoms could imitate the brain

New Scientist - Sáb, 13/08/2022 - 02:00
Simulations of a quantum computer made of six rubidium atoms suggest it could run a simple brain-inspired algorithm that can learn to remember and make simple decisions

Polio Has Been Detected In New York City Wastewater, Officials Say

Slashdot - Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Polio has been detected in New York City wastewater, suggesting that the virus that causes the disease is probably circulating in the city, the health authorities said on Friday. The announcement came three weeks after a man in Rockland County, N.Y., north of the city, was diagnosed with polio thatleft him with paralysis. Health officials fear that the detection of polio in New York City's wastewater could precede other cases of paralytic polio. The spread of the virus poses a risk to unvaccinated people, but a three-dose course of the vaccine provides at least 99 percent protection. Most adults in the United Stateswere vaccinated against polio as children. In New York City, the overall rate of polio vaccination among children 5 and under is 86 percent. Still, insome city ZIP codes, fewer thantwo-thirds of children in that group have received a full regimen, a figure that worries health officials. (The citywide vaccination rate dipped amid the pandemic, as visits to pediatricians were postponed.) Although many people who become infected with polio do not develop symptoms, about 4 percent will get viral meningitis and about 1 in 200 will become paralyzed, according to the health authorities. Parents of children who have not yet been fully vaccinated should see that they are immediately, officials said. "While the polio virus had previously been detected in wastewater samples in Rockland and neighboring Orange Counties, the announcement on Friday was the first sign it had been found in New York City," adds the report. "The city's health department did not provide details about where exactly in the five boroughs polio had been found in the wastewater, nor did officials provide dates for when the virus was detected or say how many samples had tested positive." Further reading: Vaccine-Derived Polio Is On the Rise

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Saiga antelopes have increased 10-fold after mass die-off in 2015

New Scientist - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 17:34
More than a million large-nose antelopes now roam the Kazakhstan steppe, a big rebound from the 130,000 animals left after a fatal bacterial disease killed half of the population

Small, prickly dinosaur discovered in South America reveals an unknown lineage

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 16:21
An armored dinosaur that weighed as much as a housecat has been discovered in South America. Though it resembles a primitive relative of ankylosaurus, it came from late in dinosaur history.

Physicists work out how many moons Earth could have

New Scientist - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 16:06
Simulations suggest that Earth could theoretically host two more moons the size of the one we've got now, or several smaller moons

Extreme physics of 'supercritical' matter may be surprisingly simple

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 15:36
At 'supercriticality,' the difference between the liquid and gas phases of a material seems to disappear. New research finds that this weird tipping point may be simpler than scientists thought.

One of the brightest stars in the sky dimmed in 2019. Now we know why.

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 13:34
The star Betelgeuse visibly dimmed in 2019. A new analysis finds that it blew off a huge amount of its surface.

Mary vs Elizabeth: The battle of the Tudor queens in All About History 120

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 13:25
Inside All About History 119: Discover the conflict between the Tudor sisters that informed the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I of England

Advancing Transformational Innovation in HIV Research: A Pillar of Gilead’s Efforts to Help End the Global HIV Epidemic

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 13:24
Gilead Sciences is helping to drive the next generation of treatment, prevention and cure strategy innovations with an aim to change the trajectory of the HIV epidemic. By transforming care and improving outcomes for those affected by HIV, together with the communities and collaborators around the world, the company is working to address one of the most formidable public health challenges of our time.

How Thinking Hard Makes the Brain Tired

Slashdot - Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 13:01
An anonymous reader shares a report: Physical labour is exhausting. A long run or a hard day's sweat depletes the body's energy stores, resulting in a sense of fatigue. Mental labour can also be exhausting. Even resisting that last glistening chocolate-chip cookie after a long day at a consuming desk job is difficult. Cognitive control, the umbrella term encompassing mental exertion, self-control and willpower, also fades with effort. But unlike the mechanism of physical fatigue, the cause of cognitive fatigue has been poorly understood. Previous accounts were incomplete. One of the most widely known, the biological one, draws from what is known about muscular fatigue. It posits that exerting cognitive control uses up energy in the form of glucose. At the end of a day spent intensely cogitating, the brain is metaphorically running on fumes. The problem with this version of events is that the energy cost associated with thinking is minimal. One analysis of previous studies suggests that cognitively overworked and "depleted" brains use less than one-tenth of a Tic-Tac's worth of additional glucose. If cognitive fatigue is not caused by a lack of energy, then what explains it? A team of scientists led by Antonius Wiehler of Pitie-Salpetriere University Hospital, in Paris, looked at things from what is termed a neurometabolic point of view. They hypothesise that cognitive fatigue results from an accumulation of a certain chemical in the region of the brain underpinning control. That substance, glutamate, is an excitatory neurotransmitter that abounds in the central nervous systems of mammals and plays a role in a multitude of activities, such as learning, memory and the sleep-wake cycle. In other words, cognitive work results in chemical changes in the brain, which present behaviourally as fatigue. This, therefore, is a signal to stop working in order to restore balance to the brain. In their new paper in Current Biology, the researchers describe an experiment they undertook to explain how all this happens.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Do testosterone supplements really work?

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 13:00
Experts reveal the science behind testosterone boosters and whether testosterone supplements really work

What are the different muscle fiber types?

Live Science - Vie, 12/08/2022 - 11:00
Muscle fiber types matter when it comes to sport and exercise – experts explain why

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