182 articles from FRIDAY 22.5.2020

NASA gives crucial thumbs-up to SpaceX’s historic crewed flight to space station

NASA today signed off on the first launch to send a crew into orbit from U.S. soil in nearly nine years, and the rocket for that launch had its final test firing. After reviewing mission plans for a day and a half, mission managers cleared SpaceX to send NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station at 4:33 p.m. ET (1:33 p.m. PT) Wednesday. "We had a very...

Scientists solve half-century-old magnesium dimer mystery

Magnesium dimer (Mg2) is a fragile molecule consisting of two weakly interacting atoms held together by the laws of quantum mechanics. It has recently emerged as a potential probe for understanding fundamental phenomena at the intersection of chemistry and ultracold physics, but its use has been thwarted by a half-century-old enigma—five high-lying vibrational states that hold the key to...

The secret to succesful shiitake mushrooms? Electric shock treatment

Japanese farming folklore says lightning makes mushrooms multiply – and research shows there is truth in itA few years ago, I attempted to grow my own shiitake mushrooms. I purchased a special log, which had been seeded with mushroom spores, and followed the instructions to soak it and then keep it in a shady spot. Sadly no mushrooms ever fruited on my log, but maybe I would have had more luck...

I spent over 40 years in the Australian defence force. Our lack of preparedness concerns me | Chris Barrie

It is time Australian governments started to listen to experts when it comes to climate change and pandemicsThe past 18 years has been a period of significant disengagement and disinterest by the community in Australian political affairs. The political shenanigans described in Malcolm Turnbull’s recent book A Bigger Picture ought to be a wake-up call that as our political leaders have jostled...

A clue as to why it's so hard to wake up on a cold winter's morning

Do you remember the challenge of waking up on winter's cold, dark days? Neurobiologists have uncovered a clue to what's behind this behavior. In a study of the fruit fly, the researchers have identified a 'thermometer' circuit that relays information about external cold temperature from the fly antenna to the higher brain. They show how, through this circuit, seasonally cold and dark conditions...

Scientists solve half-century-old magnesium dimer mystery

Magnesium dimer (Mg2) is a fragile molecule consisting of two weakly interacting atoms held together by the laws of quantum mechanics. It has recently emerged as a potential probe for understanding fundamental phenomena at the intersection of chemistry and ultracold physics, but its use has been thwarted by a half-century-old enigma -- five high-lying vibrational states that hold the key to...

NASA Science Virtual Community Town Hall Meeting

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will hold a community town hall meeting via teleconference with Associate Administrator for Science Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen and his leadership team at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 28, to discuss updates in NASA’s science program and the current status of NASA science activities. Members of the science community, academia, the media and the public are invited...

'Expect More': Climate Change Raises Risk of Dam Failures

The dam that failed in central Michigan on Tuesday gave way for the same reason most do: It was overwhelmed by water. Almost 5 inches of rain fell in the area in the previous two days, after earlier storms had saturated the ground and swollen the Tittabawassee River, which the dam held back.No one can say yet whether the intense rainfall that preceded this disaster was made worse by climate...

‘There are too many’: bones of 60 mammoths found in Mexico

Archaeologists face surfeit of mammoths after bones found at airport under construction north of Mexico CityArchaeologists have found the bones of about 60 mammoths at an airport under construction just north of Mexico City, near human-built “traps” where more than a dozen mammoths were found last year.Both discoveries reveal how appealing the area – once a shallow lake – was for the...

Cell reproduction dogma challenged

Meiosis is essential to sexual reproduction. For almost 15 years, it has been commonly held that retinoic acid, a molecule derived from vitamin A, triggers meiosis in mammalian germ cells. Yet new research demonstrates that meiosis in mice begins and proceeds normally even in the absence of retinoic acid. These findings set the stage for new research in the field of reproductive biology.

Covid-19: How do you calculate herd immunity? | podcast

Herd immunity represents the percentage of people in a population who need to be immune to a disease in order to protect those who aren’t. Early on in the pandemic, researchers estimated the herd immunity threshold for Covid-19 to be 60%. Following a question from a listener, Ian Sample speaks to Rachel Thomas to explore the maths and find out exactly how herd immunity is calculated Continue...

Migration patterns reveal an Eden for ancient humans and animals

Researchers have discovered a new migration pattern (or lack of) at Pinnacle Point, a now-submerged region in South Africa. While it was first believed large omnivores would travel to follow the growth of vegetation to survive, our researcher came to a completely new conclusion through studying antelope teeth! They discovered that this region was an Eden to all living species that called it home,...

Researchers discover cell reproduction not triggered by retinoic acid as previously believed

Meiosis is essential to sexual reproduction. For almost 15 years, it has been commonly held that retinoic acid, a molecule derived from vitamin A, triggers meiosis in mammalian germ cells. Yet, in joint articles published in Science Advances, French researchers from the Institut de Biologie Valrose (CNRS / INSERM / Université Côte d'Azur) and the IGBMC (CNRS / INSERM / University of Strasbourg),...