Sunday Science (6 – 12 Dec 2020)

Science News related to Aluminium Alloy for Manned Space Missions, Producing Light-Matter Mixture, Image-Based Navigation for Landing on Moon, New Sunspot Cycle – Strongest, Optical Sensor Mimicking Human Eye, Prediction of Uranium in Groundwater, Breakthrough in Nuclear Physics, Improving Hurricane Forecasts, Multitasking Microbe Purifying Wastewater, Key Evidence – Cause of Ice Age, Water on Mars Not as Widespread, Robots Encouraging Risk-Taking Behaviour

Note: I do not write/own any of the science news bits (and cover picture) given here. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. The content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

1. Aluminium Alloy Research Could Benefit Manned Space Missions

Source: University of Huddersfield

7 Dec 2020

Manned space missions in spacecraft made of aluminium that is light yet resistant to radiation could be a step nearer following research. The MIAMI-2 – Microscopes and Ion Accelerators for Materials Investigations – facility has helped investigate a new alloy that will harden aluminium without increasing its weight significantly.

2. Researchers Develop Unique Process for Producing Light-Matter Mixture

Source: University of Minnesota

7 Dec 2020

In groundbreaking new research, an international team of researchers has developed a unique process for producing a quantum state that is part light and part matter. The discovery provides fundamental new insights for more efficiently developing the next generation of quantum-based optical and electronic devices. The research could also have an impact on increasing efficiency of nanoscale chemical reactions.

3. Image-Based Navigation Could Help Spacecraft Safely Land on The Moon

Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

7 Dec 2020

A team of engineers demonstrated how a series of lunar images can be used to infer the direction that a spacecraft is moving. This technique, sometimes called visual odometry, allows navigation information to be gathered even when a good map isn’t available. The goal is to allow spacecraft to more accurately target and land at a specific location on the moon without requiring a complete map of its surface.

Original written by: Torie Wells

4. New Sunspot Cycle Could Be One of The Strongest on Record


7 Dec 2020

In direct contradiction to the official forecast, a team of scientists is predicting that the Sunspot Cycle that started this fall could be one of the strongest since record-keeping began. The research team predicts that Sunspot Cycle 25 will peak with a maximum sunspot number somewhere between approximately 210 and 260, which would put the new cycle in the company of the top few ever observed.

Original written by: Laura Snider

5. Breakthrough Optical Sensor Mimics Human Eye

Source: Oregon State University

8 Dec 2020

Researchers are making key advances with a new type of optical sensor that more closely mimics the human eye’s ability to perceive changes in its visual field. The sensor is a major breakthrough for fields such as image recognition, robotics and artificial intelligence.

6. New Study Allows Regional Prediction of Uranium in Groundwater

Source: Stanford University

8 Dec 2020

Lurking in sediments and surrounding the precious groundwater beneath our feet is a dangerous toxin: uranium. Scientists have long known this and tested for it. But now researchers have identified the trigger that causes naturally occurring uranium to dislodge from sediments and seep into groundwater, pointing to a solution for managing the toxin before it becomes a problem.

Original written by: Danielle Torrent Tucker

7. Breakthrough in Nuclear Physics

Source: Technical University of Munich (TUM)

9 Dec 2020

The positively charged protons in atomic nuclei should actually repel each other, and yet even heavy nuclei with many protons and neutrons stick together. The so-called strong interaction is responsible for this. A research group has now developed a method to precisely measure the strong interaction utilizing particle collisions in the ALICE experiment at CERN in Geneva.

8. New-Found Phenomenon That May Improve Hurricane Forecasts

Source: Nova Southeastern University

9 Dec 2020

Rapid storm intensification and decay remain a challenge for hurricane forecasts. Many factors are involved and some of them are either poorly known or not yet identified. One such factor appears to be the presence of surface-active materials of biological (e.g., coral reefs) or anthropogenic (e.g., oil spills) origin.

9. A New Multitasking Microbe to Purify Wastewater

Source: National University of Singapore

9 Dec 2020

Researchers have developed a new way to treat sewage that is much simpler, cheaper and greener than existing methods. The team found a new strain of bacterium called Thauera sp. strain SND5 that can remove both nitrogen and phosphorus from sewage. This discovery significantly reduces the high operational costs and emission of greenhouse gases associated with traditional wastewater treatment methods.

10. What Caused the Ice Ages? Tiny Ocean Fossils Offer Key Evidence

Source: Princeton University

10 Dec 2020

Scientists have found evidence indicating that during ice ages, changes in the surface waters of the Antarctic Ocean worked to store more CO2 in the deep ocean. Using sediment cores from the Antarctic Ocean, the researchers generated detailed records of the chemical composition of organic matter trapped in the fossils of diatoms — floating algae that grew in the surface waters, then died and sank to the sea floor.

Original written by: Liz Fuller-Wright

11.Water on Mars Not as Widespread as Previously Thought

Source: University of Arkansas

10 Dec 2020

Water on Mars, in the form of brines, may not be as widespread as previously thought, according to a new study. Researchers combined data on brine evaporation rates, collected through experiments at the center’s Mars simulation chamber, with a global weather circulation model of the planet to create planetwide maps of where brines are most likely to be found.

12. Robots Encourage Risk-Taking Behaviour in Humans

Source: University of Southampton

11 Dec 2020

New research has shown robots can encourage humans to take greater risks in a simulated gambling scenario than they would if there was nothing to influence their behaviours. Increasing our understanding of whether robots can affect risk-taking could have clear ethical, practical and policy implications, which this study set out to explore.

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