302 articles from TUESDAY 7.7.2020

Criminal charges reveal the identity of the “invisible god” hacker

A notorious hacker who made an estimated $1.5 million by stealing information from more than 300 companies and governments in 44 countries has been identified as a 37-year-old man from Kazakhstan.  Known as Fxmsp, the hacker became famous in 2019 when he advertised access and source code for leading cybersecurity companies, amid claims that he could make a customer “the invisible god of...

NASA's InSight flexes its arm while its 'mole' hits pause

NASA's InSight lander has been using its robotic arm to help the heat probe known as the "mole" burrow into Mars. The mission is providing the first look at the Red Planet's deep interior to reveal details about the formation of Mars and, ultimately, all rocky planets, including Earth.

Building NASA's Psyche: design done, now full speed ahead on hardware

Psyche, the NASA mission to explore a metal-rock asteroid of the same name, recently passed a crucial milestone that brings it closer to its August 2022 launch date. Now the mission is moving from planning and designing to high-gear manufacturing of the spacecraft hardware that will fly to its target in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Bad E. coli we know, but good E. coli?

Typically, there aren't a lot of positive thoughts when E. coli, generally found in animal and human intestines, is mentioned. It's been blamed for closing beaches and swimming pools and shuttering restaurants because of contamination in salad bars, meats or other food items.

Scientists offer roadmap for studying link between climate and armed conflict

Climate change—from rising temperatures and more severe heavy rain, to drought—is increasing risks for economies, human security, and conflict globally. Scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science are leading an effort to better assess the climate-conflict link to help societies manage the complex risks of increased violence from a changing...

Study reveals science behind traditional mezcal-making technique

Artisanal makers of mezcal have a tried and true way to tell when the drink has been distilled to the right alcohol level. They squirt some into a small container and look for little bubbles, known as pearls. If the alcohol content is too high or too low, the bubbles burst quickly. But if they linger for 30 seconds or so, the alcohol level is perfect and the mezcal is ready to drink.

Famous 'Jurassic Park' dinosaur is less lizard, more bird

From movies to museum exhibits, the dinosaur Dilophosaurus is no stranger to pop culture. Many probably remember it best from the movie "Jurassic Park," where it's depicted as a venom-spitting beast with a rattling frill around its neck and two paddle-like crests on its head.

Shock-dissipating fractal cubes could forge high-tech armor

Tiny, 3-D printed cubes of plastic, with intricate fractal voids built into them, have proven to be effective at dissipating shockwaves, potentially leading to new types of lightweight armor and structural materials effective against explosions and impacts.

Scientists observe catalyst during Fischer-Tropsch synthesis for the first time

Suitable catalysts are of great importance for efficient power-to-X applications—but the molecular processes occurring during their use have not yet been fully understood. Using X-rays from a synchrotron particle accelerator, scientists of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now been able to observe for the first time a catalyst during the Fischer-Tropsch reaction that facilitates...

Forbidden herbs? The effects of cannabis were a controversial topic 250 years ago

Should cannabis be legalized for medicinal purposes or will it remain an illegal drug? This has been discussed in many countries for years—and has been a point of contention for much longer than expected: Already in Mexico in the 18th century, priest and scientist José Antonio Alzate y Ramírez campaigned for the healing effects of the controversial plant—against the position of the Spanish...

'It Will Consume Your Life': 4 Families Take On Rare Diseases

Monica Coenraads had a terrible feeling something was wrong with her 14-month-old baby, Chelsea. She had not learned to walk. She had one word, duck, and then lost it.During a family vacation to Barbados more than 20 years ago, Chelsea cried the whole time. She bit her parents so hard they bled. She was only happy in the hotel room with the shades drawn."I got home and said: 'That's...

Physicist optimizes DNA microscopy technique to improve imaging speed, add color

Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy can be used to visualize structures smaller than 200 nanometers, i.e., below the diffraction limit of light. One of the microscopy techniques, called DNA-PAINT, was developed by Ralf Jungmann, research group leader at the MPI of Biochemistry and Professor for Experimental Physics at LMU, together with colleagues. The technique uses short 'imagers',...

Using sound to study underwater volcanoes

Imagine placing a rock on a piece of suspended cardboard. If the cardboard is strong and hearty, like the cover of a hardback book, the rock can sit there for a long time and the board will barely flex due to the weight of the rock. But if the cardboard is flimsy, more like poster board, it will start to give beneath the weight of the rock, distorting in shape and structure.

How to tackle climate change, food security and land degradation

How can some of world's biggest problems -- climate change, food security and land degradation -- be tackled simultaneously? Some lesser-known options, such as integrated water management and increasing the organic content of soil, have fewer trade-offs than many well-known options, such as planting trees, according to a new study.

Scientists put forward plan to create universal species list

Single classification system could end centuries of disagreement and improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss A plan to create the first universally recognised list of species on Earth has prompted hopes of an end to centuries of disagreement and confusion over how to classify the world’s library of life.The 10-point plan aims to finally bring order with an authoritative list of the...

Making a list of all creatures, great and small

A paper published July 7, 2020 in the open access journal PLOS Biology outlines a roadmap for creating, for the first time, an agreed list of all the world's species, from mammals and birds to plants, fungi and microbes.

Predicting fire risk

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a method that uses machine learning to predict seasonal fire risk in Africa, where half of the world's wildfire-related carbon emissions originate.

Strange bedfellows: How butterfly caterpillars sustain their association with cocktail ants

The spectacular leaps of gazelles, group living in deer and monkeys, and fast flight in many insects are all linked by a common phenomenon—predation. In its various forms, predation has driven the evolution of a plethora of specialized structures (morphology) and behaviors among organisms. Insects, being especially vulnerable because of their small size, have evolved various strategies to avoid...

Conservation agriculture increases carbon sequestration in extensive crops

Agricultural activity is responsible for about 12% of the total emissions of greenhouse gases in Spain. Nevertheless, adopting good agricultural practices can help reverse this situation, by increasing the sequestration of organic carbon in soil. With the goal of compensating for CO2 emissions produced by agricultural activity by means of fixing organic carbon in soil, the 4perMille initiative...

On-chip spin-Hall nanograting for simultaneously detecting phase and polarization singularities

A plasmonic spin-Hall nanograting structure that simultaneously detects both the polarization and phase singularities of the incident beam is reported. The nanograting is symmetry-breaking with different periods for the upper and lower parts, which enables the unidirectional excitation of the SPP depending on the topological charge of the incident beam. Additionally, spin-Hall meta-slits are...

Curiosity Mars rover's summer road trip has begun

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has started a road trip that will continue through the summer across roughly a mile (1.6 kilometers) of terrain. By trip's end, the rover will be able to ascend to the next section of the 3-mile-tall Martian (5-kilometer-tall) mountain it's been exploring since 2014, searching for conditions that may have supported ancient microbial life.

For cleaner air, water, and soil

The air around us is getting more and more polluted. No wonder many scientists strive to find a way to purify it. Thanks to the work of an international team led by prof. Juan Carlos Colmenares from the Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences, we are a big step closer to achieving this goal. The team found a way to make an efficient reactive adsorbent able to purify air from...

Agriculture: A climate villain? Maybe not!

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that agriculture is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases, and is thus by many observers considered as a climate villain. This conclusion, however, is based on a paradigm that can be questioned, writes Per Frankelius, Linkoping University, in an article in Agronomy Journal.

A chemical cocktail of air pollution in Beijing, China during COVID-19 outbreak

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads rapidly around the world, and has limited people's outdoor activities substantially. Air quality is therefore expected to be improved due to reduced anthropogenic emissions. However, in some megacities it has not been improved as expected and severe haze episodes still occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown.

To protect threatened beetle, entomologists hope new colony takes hold

As thousands of hopeful coronavirus shut-ins look forward to heading to Atlantic beaches for the July 4 holiday, University of Massachusetts Amherst entomologist Rodger Gwiazdowski and colleagues are also heading to the beach—but they'll visit the last quiet natural one protected by the National Park Service at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

A new understanding of protein movement

Many of the most promising medicines under development are proteins, often antibodies, to help patients fight disease. These proteins must be purified as part of the manufacturing process—a task that can be tricky and result in costly waste.