Sunday Science (13 – 19 Dec 2020)

Science News related to Space Agriculture, Surface Chemistry on Mars, Farthest Galaxy in the Universe, The Intersection of AI and Neuroscience, Origami Solving Space Travel Challenge, New Type of Atomic Clock, Possible Exoplanet Radio Emission, Astronaut Flying Around the Moon, Life Support on Enceladus, Longest Intergalactic Gas Filament, White Dwarfs and Cosmological Lithium Problem, 100 Times More Efficient Entangled Photons

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. Fertilizer Made from Urine Could Enable Space Agriculture

Source: Tokyo University of Science

14 Dec 2020

From the perspective of future societies, in extremely closed environments such as a space station, self-sufficiency in food cultivation and waste management is critical. However, the technology to achieve this is still lacking. In a new study, scientists shed light on their most recent breakthrough: a cheap and efficient method to make liquid fertilizer (ammonia) from simplified artificial urine, serving an ideal dual purpose of growing food and treating waste.

2. Powerful Electrical Events Quickly Alter Surface Chemistry on Mars and Other Planetary Bodies

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

14 Dec 2020

Thinking like Earthlings may have caused scientists to overlook the electrochemical effects of Martian dust storms. On Earth, dust particles are viewed mainly in terms of their physical effects, like erosion. But, in exotic locales from Mars to Venus to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, electrical effects can affect the chemical composition of a planetary body’s surface and atmosphere in a relatively short time, according to new research.

Original written by: Shawn Ballard

3. The Farthest Galaxy in The Universe

Source: University of Tokyo

15 Dec 2020

A team of astronomers used the Keck I telescope to measure the distance to an ancient galaxy. They deduced the target galaxy GN-z11 is not only the oldest galaxy but also the most distant. It’s so distant it defines the very boundary of the observable universe itself. The team hopes this study can shed light on a period of cosmological history when the universe was only a few hundred million years old.

4. Researchers Uncover Blind Spots at The Intersection of AI and Neuroscience

Source: Purdue University

15 Dec 2020

Is it possible to read a person’s mind by analyzing the electric signals from the brain? The answer may be much more complex than most people think. Researchers working at the intersection of artificial intelligence and neuroscience say a prominent dataset used to try to answer this question is confounded, and therefore many eye-popping findings that were based on this dataset and received high-profile recognition are false after all.

Original written by: Chris Adam

5. Researchers Use Origami to Solve Space Travel Challenge

Source: Washington State University

15 Dec 2020

Researchers have used the ancient Japanese art of paper folding to possibly solve a key challenge for outer space travel – how to store and move fuel to rocket engines. They have developed an origami-inspired, folded plastic fuel bladder that doesn’t crack at super cold temperatures and could someday be used to store and pump fuel.

Original written by: Tina Hilding

6. New Type of Atomic Clock Keeps Time Even More Precisely

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

16 Dec 2020

The researchers report that they have built an atomic clock that measures not a cloud of randomly oscillating atoms, as state-of-the-art designs measure now, but instead atoms that have been quantumly entangled. The atoms are correlated in a way that is impossible according to the laws of classical physics, and that allows the scientists to measure the atoms’ vibrations more accurately.

Original written by: Jennifer Chu

7. Astronomers Detect Possible Exoplanet Radio Emission

Source: Cornell University

16 Dec 2020

By monitoring the cosmos with a radio telescope array, an international team of scientists has detected radio bursts emanating from the constellation Boötes – that could be the first radio emission collected from a planet beyond our solar system.

Original written by: Blaine Friedlander

8. A Canadian Astronaut Will Fly Around the Moon on The First Crewed Mission of NASA’s New Rocket

Source: The Verge

16 Dec 2020

One of Canada’s astronauts will be sent around the Moon as part of a partnership between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), NASA announced on Wednesday. The two organizations have formally agreed to collaborate on building a lunar space station called the Lunar Gateway. The Gateway is just one part of NASA’s larger Artemis program, which is focused on landing a woman on the Moon by 2024.

Original written by: Ian Carlos Campbell

9. Potential Support for Life on Enceladus, Saturn’s Moon

Source: Southwest Research Institute

16 Dec 2020

Using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, scientists modeled chemical processes in the subsurface ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The studies indicate the possibility that a varied metabolic menu could support a potentially diverse microbial community in the liquid water ocean beneath the moon’s icy facade.

10. Longest Intergalactic Gas Filament Discovered

Source: University of Bonn

17 Dec 2020

A team has now for the first time observed a gas filament with a length of 50 million light years. Its structure is strikingly similar to the predictions of computer simulations. The observation therefore also confirms our ideas about the origin and evolution of our universe.

11. Can White Dwarfs Help Solve the Cosmological Lithium Problem?

Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

17 Dec 2020

For the first time, hard-to-track lithium has been identified and measured in the atmosphere of burned out stars called white dwarfs, according to a study. Lithium helps power cell phones and computers and stabilize moods. But scientists have been stumped by what’s become of the lithium that was expected from the Big Bang, a discrepancy known as the “cosmological lithium problem.”

12. Researchers Create Entangled Photons 100 Times More Efficiently Than Previously Possible

Source: Stevens Institute of Technology

17 Dec 2020

Super-fast quantum computers and communication devices could revolutionize countless aspects of our lives — but first, researchers need a fast, efficient source of the entangled pairs of photons such systems use to transmit and manipulate information. Researchers have now done just that, creating a chip-based photon source 100 times more efficient than previously possible. The work brings massive quantum device integration within reach.

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