Sunday Science (8 – 14 Nov 2020)

Science News related to Drop in CO2 Emissions, First Brown Dwarf, Mining Rocks in Orbit, The Habitability of Rocky Planets, The Universe Getting Hot, Tree Rings and Distant Supernovas, Advancing the Arrival of Fusion Energy, Mars Losing Water, Artificial Cell Organelles, Small Blasts and Risk of Brain Injury, Costs to Recycle Lithium-Ion Batteries, Stretchable Sensors

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. Drop in Pandemic CO2 Emissions Previews World of Electric Vehicles

Source: University of California – Berkeley

9 Nov 2020

In the six weeks after the San Francisco Bay Area instituted the nation’s first shelter-in-place mandate in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, regional carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 25%, almost all of it due to a nearly 50% drop in road traffic, according to a new study.

Original written by: Robert Sanders

2. First Brown Dwarf Discovered by Radio Observations

Source: Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

9 Nov 2020

A collaboration between the LOFAR radio telescope, the Gemini North telescope, and the NASA IRTF, has led to the first direct discovery of a cold brown dwarf from its radio wavelength emission. Along with paving the way for future brown dwarf discoveries, this result is an important step towards applying radio astronomy to the exciting field of exoplanets.

3. Mining Rocks in Orbit Could Aid Space Missions

Source: University of Edinburgh

10 Nov 2020

Tests performed by astronauts on the International Space Station suggest that bacteria can extract useful materials from rocks on Mars and the Moon. The findings could aid efforts to develop ways of sourcing metals and minerals – such as iron and magnesium – essential for survival in space.

4. Radioactive Elements May Be Crucial to The Habitability of Rocky Planets

Source: University of California – Santa Cruz

10 Nov 2020

The amount of long-lived radioactive elements incorporated into a rocky planet as it forms may be a crucial factor in determining its future habitability, according to a new study. Earth-size planets can have varying amounts of radioactive elements, which generate internal heat that drives a planet’s geological activity and magnetism.

Original written by: Tim Stephens

5. The Universe Is Getting Hot, Hot, Hot, A New Study Suggests

Source: Ohio State University

10 Nov 2020

The universe is getting hotter, a new study has found. The study probed the thermal history of the universe over the last 10 billion years. It found that the mean temperature of gas across the universe has increased more than 10 times over that time period and reached about 2 million degrees Kelvin today — approximately 4 million degrees Fahrenheit.

Original written by: Laura Arenschield

6. Tree Rings May Hold Clues to Earthly Impacts of Distant Supernovas

Source: University of Colorado at Boulder

11 Nov 2020

Massive explosions of energy happening thousands of light-years from Earth may have left traces in our planet’s biology and geology, according to new research. The study probes the impacts of supernovas, some of the most violent events in the known universe. In the span of just a few months, a single one of these eruptions can release as much energy as the sun will during its entire lifetime.

Original written by: Daniel Strain

7. Advancing the Arrival of Fusion Energy Through Improved Understanding of Fast Plasma Particles

Source: DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

11 Nov 2020

Unlocking the zig-zagging dance of hot, charged plasma particles that fuel fusion reactions can help to harness on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. Researchers have developed a new algorithm, or set of computer rules, for tracking volatile particles that could advance the arrival of safe, clean and virtually limitless source of energy.

Original written by: John Greenwald

8. Escape from Mars: How Water Fled the Red Planet

Source: University of Arizona

12 Nov 2020

Mars once had oceans but is now bone-dry, leaving many to wonder how the water was lost. Researchers have discovered a surprisingly large amount of water in the upper atmosphere of Mars, where it is rapidly destroyed, explaining part of this Martian mystery.

Original written by: Mikayla Mace

9. Researchers Create Artificial Cell Organelles for Biotechnology

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt

12 Nov 2020

Cells of higher organisms use cell organelles to separate metabolic processes from each other. This is how cell respiration takes place in the mitochondria, the cell’s power plants. They can be compared to sealed laboratory rooms in the large factory of the cell. A research team has now succeeded in creating artificial cell organelles and using them for their own devised biochemical reactions.

10. Repeated Small Blasts Put Military, Law Enforcement at Risk for Brain Injury

Source: University of Virginia Health System

12 Nov 2020

Military and law-enforcement personnel repeatedly exposed to low-level blasts have significant brain changes – including an increased level of brain injury and inflammation – compared with a control group, a new study has found. The study compared the brains of 20 “breachers” – specialists who use explosives to enter buildings and other structures – with a 14-person, age-matched control group.

11. Environmentally Friendly Method Could Lower Costs to Recycle Lithium-Ion Batteries

Source: University of California – San Diego

12 Nov 2020

A new process for restoring spent cathodes to mint condition could make it more economical to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The process is more environmentally friendly than today’s methods; it uses greener ingredients, consumes 80 to 90% less energy, and emits about 75% less greenhouse gases.

Original written by: Liezel Labios

12. Stretchable Sensor Gives Robots and VR A Human Touch

Source: Cornell University

12 Nov 2020

Researchers have created a fiber-optic sensor that combines low-cost LEDs and dyes, resulting in a stretchable “skin” that detects deformations such as pressure, bending and strain. This sensor could give soft robotic systems the ability to feel the same rich, tactile sensations that mammals depend on to navigate the natural world. Original written by: David Nutt

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