Sunday Science (4 – 10 Oct 2020)

Science News related to Drying Amazon Forest, New Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Global Warming, Megatesla Magnetic Fields, Hexagon Storm on Saturn, Nobel Prize in Physics, Better Planets than Earth, New Look at Sunspots, Studying Asteroid Bennu, Glacier Ice Loss, Predicting Rare Earth Element Deposits.

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. As Emissions Grow, More Parts of The Amazon Are Likely to Dry Out

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre

Rainforests are very sensitive to changes that affect rainfall for extended periods. If rainfall drops below a certain threshold, areas may shift into a savanna state. “In around 40 percent of the Amazon, the rainfall is now at a level where the forest could exist in either state – rainforest or savanna,” says Arie Staal, formerly a postdoctoral researcher.

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2. A New Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Suggests That Reality Does Not Depend on The Person Measuring It

Source: Aalto University

For 100 years scientists have disagreed on how to interpret quantum mechanics. A recent study supports an interpretation that is close to classical scientific principles. Quantum mechanics arose in the 1920s – and since then scientists have disagreed on how best to interpret it. Many interpretations state that the consciousness of the person conducting the test affects its result.

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3. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020

Source: Nobel Foundation

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry is being awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of the CRISPR/Cas9 method for genome editing. They have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision.

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4. Climate-Friendly Cooling to Help Ease Global Warming

Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

A new study shows that coordinated international action on energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling could avoid as much as 600 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions in this century. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are mainly used for cooling and refrigeration. They were originally developed to replace ozone-depleting substances that are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

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5. Could Megatesla Magnetic Fields Be Realized on Earth?

Source: Osaka University

Magnetic fields are used in various areas of modern physics and engineering, with practical applications ranging from doorbells to maglev trains. Since Nikola Tesla’s discoveries in the 19th century, researchers have strived to realize strong magnetic fields in laboratories for fundamental studies and diverse applications, but the magnetic strength of familiar examples is relatively weak.

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6. A New 3D Model Could Explain the Formation of a Hexagon Storm on Saturn

Source: Harvard University

One of Saturn’s mysteries involves the massive storm in the shape of a hexagon at its north pole. The six-sided vortex is an atmospheric phenomenon that has been fascinating planetary scientists since its discovery in the 1980s. In a recently published paper, the researchers began to wrap their heads around how the vortex came to be.

Original written by: Juan Siliezar

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7. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020

Source: Nobel Foundation

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics is being awarded to Roger Penrose ‘for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity’ and jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez ‘for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.’

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8. Some Planets May Be Better for Life Than Earth

Source: Washington State University

A study recently published in the journal Astrobiology details characteristics of potential “superhabitable” planets which include those that are older, a little larger, slightly warmer and possibly wetter than Earth. Life could also more easily thrive on planets that circle more slowly changing stars with longer lifespans than our sun.

Original written by: Sara Zaske

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9. A New Look at Sunspots is Helping NASA Scientists Understand Major Flares and Life Around Other Stars

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s extensive fleet of spacecraft allows scientists to study the Sun extremely close-up – one of the agency’s spacecraft is even on its way to fly through the Sun’s outer atmosphere. But sometimes taking a step back can provide new insight. In a new study, scientists looked at sunspots – darkened patches on the Sun caused by its magnetic field – at low resolution as if they were trillions of miles away. What resulted was a simulated view of distant stars, which can help us understand stellar activity and the conditions for life on planets orbiting other stars.

Original written by: Mara Johnson-Groh

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10. Scientists Study the Rugged Surface of Near-Earth Asteroid Bennu

Source: Southwest Research Institute

As the days count down to NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s Touch-And-Go asteroid sample collection attempt, Southwest Research Institute scientists have helped determine what the spacecraft can expect to return from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu’s surface. Three papers published online by Science on Oct. 8 discuss the color, reflectivity, age, composition, origin, and distribution of materials that make up the asteroid’s rough surface.

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11. Meltwater Lakes Are Accelerating Glacier Ice Loss

Source: University of Leeds

Meltwater lakes that form at glacier margins cause ice to recede much further and faster compared to glaciers that terminate on land, according to a new study. But the effects of these glacial lakes are not represented in current ice loss models, warn the study authors. Therefore, estimates of recession rates and ice mass loss from lake-terminating glaciers in the coming decades are likely to be under-estimated.

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12. Geologists Solve Puzzle That Could Predict Valuable Rare Earth Element Deposits

Source: University of Exeter

Pioneering new research has helped geologists solve a long-standing puzzle that could help pinpoint new, untapped concentrations of some of the most valuable rare earth deposits. A team of geologists has discovered a new hypothesis to predict where rare earth elements neodymium and dysprosium could be found.

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