318 articles from THURSDAY 18.6.2020

NASA’s new head of human spaceflight says SpaceX’s Dragon is in good shape

NASA's newly named associate administrator for human exploration and operations, Kathy Lueders, says that SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule "has been doing great" at the International Space Station — and that the NASA astronauts who rode it to orbit are likely to come back down to Earth in early August. Lueders was selected to become NASA's head of human spaceflight last week,...

Pollutionwatch: air quality benefits of lockdown continue

There was an average decrease of 31% in nitrogen dioxide levels on London’s roads The start of the UK lockdown brought news of reduced air pollution. Did it last?Measurements from London show that initial improvements in nitrogen dioxide from traffic continued into April and May. Compared with the first 11 weeks of 2020 before lockdown, there was an average decrease of 31% on the capital’s...

Popular doesn't mean influential among Cambodian farmers

It's become common practice for NGOs and environmental development agencies to use 'influencers' for the roll out of environmentally sustainable farming practices, but this isn't always the most effective method, say social network analysts from the University of Sydney.

Planets must be formed early, study finds

Scientists have found evidence that planets form in a blink of an eye on a cosmic scale. New results, obtained using the combined power of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Very Large Array (VLA), show that very young disks, with ages of between 0.1—0.5 million years, have more than enough pieces to assemble planetary systems.

'Nanotorch' highlights ultrafast biochemical reactions

Life depends on remarkable arrays of biochemical reactions. Understanding the workings of biomolecules involves real-time monitoring of these reactions. Happening in only tiny fractions of a millisecond, this is very difficult even with highly sensitive optical instruments. Therefore, Ph.D. researcher Yuyang Wang uses a 'plasmonic nanotorch," a single metal nanoparticle that illuminates single...

Researchers make new discovery on the molecular structure of natural products

Researchers from the Institute of Molecular Science (ICMol) of the University of Valencia have managed to synthesize a new porous material that makes it possible to encapsulate a series of active principles of natural substances and determine their chemical structure by using X-ray diffraction. This will allow for the future characterisation of natural products, hitherto unknown, and to reveal...

Ministers show how world beating they are all over again | John Crace

From Hancock being forced to bin the test and trace app to Raab’s BLM gaffe, who can rival the cabinet for incompetence?For months now the government has been prefacing all its coronavirus briefings as world-beating when the only thing in which we appeared to be global leaders was our mortality rates. But now I’m beginning to think Boris Johnson and his cabinet may have been on to something...

Hubble provides holistic view of stars gone haywire

As nuclear fusion engines, most stars live placid lives for hundreds of millions to billions of years. But near the end of their lives they can turn into crazy whirligigs, puffing off shells and jets of hot gas. Hubble has dissected such crazy fireworks in two nearby young planetary nebulas.

How cancer drugs find their targets could lead to a new toolset for drug development

Cellular processes such as transcription often take place in tiny cellular droplets called condensates. A new study shows the mechanism by which small molecules, including cancer drugs, are concentrated in these droplets -- a finding that could have implications for the development of new cancer therapeutics. If researchers could tailor a chemical to seek out and concentrate in one kind of droplet...

Studying the Neanderthal DNA found in modern humans using stem cells and organoids

Protocols that allow the transformation of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines into organoids have changed the way scientists can study developmental processes and enable them to decipher the interplay between genes and tissue formation, particularly for organs where primary tissue is not available. Now, investigators are taking this technology and applying it to study the...

Use of forests to offset carbon emissions requires an understanding of the risks

Given the tremendous ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some governments are counting on planted forests as offsets for greenhouse gas emissions -- a sort of climate investment. But as with any investment, it's important to understand the risks. If a forest goes bust, researchers say, much of that stored carbon could go up in smoke.

Scientists solve a thorny problem: Applications for citrus groves

''Why do plants have thorns?'' is an easy question: The thorns help protect against hungry animals that like to munch on the plants. ''Where do thorns come from?'' is a more complicated question -- but scientists have found an answer. Their insight may help change the way oranges and other crops are grown.