Sunday Science (28 Sep – 4 Oct 2020)

Science News related to Early Solar System, Mars’ Salty Lakes, Greenland – Ice, Burning Arctic, Matter in Universe, Radiation on Moon, Cosmic Diamonds, Volcanic Ash, Habitable Venus, Fusion Experiment, Plastic Waste, Einstein – Gravity

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. Remnants of An Ancient Asteroid Shed New Light on The Early Solar System

Source: Hiroshima University

Researchers have shaken up a once accepted timeline for cataclysmic events in the early solar system. About 4.5 Ga (giga-anum, or billion years ago), as a large disc of dust and ice collapsed around our newly formed star, planets and smaller celestial bodies were formed. What followed was a chaotic and violent period of collisions and impacts as the familiar eight planets carved out their orbits to resemble the balanced system we observe today.

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2. Salty Lakes Found Beneath Mars’ Surface


Two years ago, planetary scientists were abuzz with the potential discovery of a subsurface lake on Mars — buried deep beneath layers of ice and dust at the planet’s south pole. Now, new research adds more weight to that possibility, suggesting there is not just one but several briney lakes. These aquifers would represent the first known Martian bodies of liquid water — albeit extremely salty water.

Original written by: Mark Zastrow

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3. Greenland Is on Track to Lose Ice Faster Than in Any Century Over the Last 12,000 Years, Study Finds

Source: University at Buffalo

If human societies don’t sharply curb emissions of greenhouse gases, Greenland’s rate of ice loss this century is likely to greatly outpace that of any century over the past 12,000 years, a new study concludes. The study employs ice sheet modeling to understand the past, present and future of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Original written by: Charlotte Hsu

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4. The Arctic Is Burning in A Whole New Way

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder

“Zombie fires” and burning of fire-resistant vegetation are new features driving Arctic fires—with strong consequences for the global climate—warn international fire scientists. The scientists contend that input and expertise of Indigenous and other local and communities is essential to understanding and managing this global issue. Original written by: Shelly Sommer

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5. Scientists Precisely Measure Total Amount of Matter in The Universe

Source: University of California – Riverside

A top goal in cosmology is to precisely measure the total amount of matter in the universe, a daunting exercise for even the most mathematically proficient. A team led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has now done just that. The team determined that matter makes up 31% of the total amount of matter and energy in the universe, with the remainder consisting of dark energy.

Original written by: Iqbal Pittalwala

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6. First Measurements of Radiation Levels on The Moon

Source: Kiel University

In the coming years and decades, various nations want to explore the moon, and plan to send astronauts there again for this purpose. But on our inhospitable satellite, space radiation poses a significant risk. The Apollo astronauts carried so-called dosimeters with them, which performed rudimentary measurements of the total radiation exposure during their entire expedition to the moon and back again.

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7. Geoscience: Cosmic Diamonds Formed During Gigantic Planetary Collisions

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt

Geoscientists have found the largest extraterrestrial diamonds ever discovered – a few tenths of a millimetre in size nevertheless – inside meteorites. Together with an international team of researchers, they have now been able to prove that these diamonds formed in the early period of our solar system when minor planets collided together or with large asteroids.

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8. Volcanic Ash Could Help Reduce CO2 Associated with Climate Change

Source: University of Southampton

Scientists are investigating ways of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from our atmosphere believe volcanic ash could play an important role. A team has modelled the impact of spreading volcanic ash from a ship to an area of ocean floor to help amplify natural processes which lock away CO2 in the seabed. hey found the technique has the potential to be cheaper, technologically simpler and less invasive than other techniques to remove harmful gases.

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9. Venus Might Be Habitable Today, If Not for Jupiter

Source: University of California – Riverside

Venus might not be a sweltering, waterless hellscape today, if Jupiter hadn’t altered its orbit around the sun, according to new research. Jupiter has a mass that is two-and-a-half times that of all other planets in our solar system — combined. Because it is comparatively gigantic, it has the ability to disturb other planets’ orbits.

Original written by: Jules Bernstein

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10. Validating the Physics Behind the New MIT-Designed Fusion Experiment

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

SPARC is planned to be the first experimental device ever to achieve a ‘burning plasma’ — a self-sustaining fusion reaction in which different isotopes of the element hydrogen fuse together to form helium, without the need for any further input of energy.

Original written by: David L. Chandler

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11. New Enzyme Cocktail Digests Plastic Waste Six Times Faster

Source: University of Portsmouth

The scientists who re-engineered the plastic-eating enzyme PETase have now created an enzyme ‘cocktail’ which can digest plastic up to six times faster. A second enzyme, found in the same rubbish dwelling bacterium that lives on a diet of plastic bottles, has been combined with PETase to speed up the breakdown of plastic.

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12. Einstein’s Description of Gravity Just Got Much Harder to Beat

Source: University of Arizona

Einstein’s theory of general relativity—the idea that gravity is matter warping spacetime—has withstood over 100 years of scrutiny and testing, including the newest test from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration. According to the findings, Einstein’s theory just got 500 times harder to beat.

Original written by: Mikayla Mace

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