Sunday Science (21 – 27 Sep 2020)

Science News related to Global Sea Level, Superfluid Universe, Homemade Masks, Pi Planet, Video Games, Sport-Memory, Time Travel, Gravity, Food Delivery Waste, Disease Spread, AI Computers

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.

Melting Ice Sheets Will Add Over 15 Inches to Global Sea Level Rise By 2100


If humans continue emitting greenhouse gases at the current pace, global sea levels could rise more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) by 2100, scientists found in a new study. Greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, such as carbon dioxide, contribute significantly to climate change and warming temperatures on planet Earth, studies continue to show.

Original written by: Chelsea Gohd

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Why There Is No Speed Limit in The Superfluid Universe

Source: Lancaster University

Physicists from Lancaster University have established why objects moving through superfluid helium-3 lack a speed limit in a continuation of earlier Lancaster research. Helium-3 is a rare isotope of helium, in which one neutron is missing. It becomes superfluid at extremely low temperatures, enabling unusual properties such as a lack of friction for moving objects.

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Most Homemade Masks Are Doing A Great Job, Even When We Sneeze, Study Finds

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau

Researchers tested 11 household fabrics that are commonly used for homemade masks and found that all are effective at curbing the small and large respiratory droplets that are released when we speak, cough or sneeze. Studies indicate that homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19 when combined with frequent hand-washing and physical distancing.

Original written by: Lois Yoksoulian

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Astronomers Discover an Earth-Sized “Pi Planet” With A 3.14-Day Orbit

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In a delightful alignment of astronomy and mathematics, scientists at MIT and elsewhere have discovered a “pi Earth” — an Earth-sized planet that zips around its star every 3.14 days, in an orbit reminiscent of the universal mathematics constant. The researchers discovered signals of the planet in data taken in 2017 by the NASA Kepler Space Telescope’s K2 mission.

Original written by: Jennifer Chu

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Playing Video Games as A Child Can Improve Working Memory Years Later

Source: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

A number of studies have shown how playing video games can lead to structural changes in the brain, including increasing the size of some regions, or to functional changes, such as activating the areas responsible for attention or visual-spatial skills. New research has gone further to show how cognitive changes can take place even years after people stop playing.

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NASA’s New Mars Rover Will Use X-Rays to Hunt Fossils


NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has a challenging road ahead: After having to make it through the harrowing entry, descent, and landing phase of the mission on Feb. 18, 2021, it will begin searching for traces of microscopic life from billions of years back. That’s why it’s packing PIXL, a precision X-ray device powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

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Sport and Memory Go Hand in Hand

Source: Université de Genève

By exploring the benefits of sport in memory and motor learning, scientists at UNIGE are opening up promising perspectives for school programmes and in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. By evaluating memory performance following a sport session, neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) demonstrate that an intensive physical exercise session as short as 15 minutes improves memory, including the acquisition of new motor skills.

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Young Physicist ‘Squares the Numbers’ on Time Travel

Source: University of Queensland

Paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible, according to the mathematical modelling of a prodigious University of Queensland undergraduate student. Fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) student Germain Tobar has been investigating the possibility of time travel, under the supervision of UQ physicist Dr Fabio Costa.

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Gravity Causes Homogeneity of The Universe

Source: University of Vienna

Gravity can accelerate the homogenization of space-time as the universe evolves. This insight is based on theoretical studies of the physicist David Fajman of the University of Vienna. The mathematical methods developed within the research project allow to investigate fundamental open questions of cosmology such as why the universe today appears so homogeneous.

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Reusing Tableware Can Reduce Waste from Online Food Deliveries

Source: University of Groningen

In China, approximately 10 billion online food orders were served to over 400 million customers in 2018. All of these orders came in single-use plastic packaging, with single-use plastic tableware. Together with colleagues from China and the UK, Yuli Shan, an environmental scientist at the University of Groningen, found that reusable tableware can substantially reduce packaging waste and life cycle environmental emissions.

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The Impact of Human Mobility on Disease Spread

Source: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Due to continual improvements in transportation technology, people travel more extensively than ever before. Although this strengthened connection between faraway countries comes with many benefits, it also poses a serious threat to disease control and prevention. When infected humans travel to regions that are free of their particular contagions, they might inadvertently transmit their infections to local residents and cause disease outbreaks. Original written by: Jillian Kunze

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Engineers Pre-Train AI Computers to Make Them Even More Powerful

Source: Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology – CSEM

Engineers at CSEM have developed a new machine-learning method that paves the way for artificial intelligence to be used in applications that until now have been deemed too sensitive. The method, which has been tested by running simulations on a climate-control system for a 100-room building, is poised to deliver energy savings of around 20%.

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