357 articles from THURSDAY 20.8.2020

A new lens on the world: Improving the metalens with liquid crystal

Physicists have taken a step toward making 'metalenses' even more useful -- by making them reconfigurable. They did this by harnessing nanoscale forces to infiltrate liquid crystals between those microscopic pillars, allowing them to shape and diffract the light in completely new ways -- 'tuning' the focusing power, one of the researchers said.

First daily surveillance of emerging COVID-19 hotspots

Over the course of the coronavirus epidemic, COVID-19 outbreaks have hit communities across the United States. As clusters of infection shift over time, local officials are forced into a whack-a-mole approach to allocating resources and enacting public health policies. Geographers hope that timely, localized data will help inform future decisions, and one day predict where hotpots will emerge.

Osiris-Rex mission on course for asteroid sample collection

Nasa spacecraft makes final preparations to gather material from Bennu’s surface in October Nasa’s Osiris-Rex (origins, spectral interpretation, resource identification, security, regolith explorer) asteroid mission has performed its final practice run for its forthcoming sample collection manoeuvre.The spacecraft is 288m km from Earth, in orbit around the asteroid Bennu. On 20 October it is...

Scientists peer inside ancient Egyptian cat, snake and bird mummies

Scientists are gaining new insight into the ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying animals, using high-resolution 3D scans to peer inside mummies of a cat, a bird and a snake to learn about their treatment before being killed and embalmed. Researchers on Monday said they digitally "unwrapped" and "dissected" the three mummies using X-ray micro CT scanning, which generates three-dimensional...

Researchers create synthetic proteins that use logic to choose which cells to kill

The age of molecular-scale computing is entering a new era, thanks to the development of a system that uses synthetic proteins and Boolean logic to identify cancer cells. The proteins can lock onto chemical markers on the surface of cells in predetermined combinations, performing the roles of logical AND, OR and NOT gates. It's similar to the way binary computers do their thing, but with...

Earth's anthropogenic carbon dioxide increase is unprecedented

A new measurement technology developed at the University of Bern provides unique insights into the climate of the past. Previous CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere could be reconstructed more accurately than ever before, thanks to high-resolution measurements made on an Antarctic ice core. The study, which analyzed the Earth's atmospheric composition between 330,000 and 450,000 years ago, was...

NASA gets a wide-angle view of hurricane Genevieve

NASA provided a series of photos of Hurricane Genevieve as it affected Mexico's southern Baja California peninsula. An astronaut aboard the International Space Station provided wide-angle photos of Genevieve, showing the size of the storm. Warnings and watches are in effect on Aug. 20.

New approach uses wild genes to improve biological nitrogen fixation in soybeans

One of the top four crops grown worldwide, soybean has been an integral part of Chinese agriculture for a long time, having been domesticated more than 6000 years ago. During the domestication process, certain traits are selected that make plants easier to cultivate and cook and other traits can be lost. Wild ancestors of domesticated crops can be important reservoirs of agronomic traits that have...

Graphene sensors find subtleties in magnetic fields

Researchers used an ultrathin graphene 'sandwich' to create a tiny magnetic field sensor that can operate over a greater temperature range than previous sensors, while also detecting miniscule changes in magnetic fields that might otherwise get lost within a larger magnetic background.

Study focuses on low-carb, high-fat diet effect on older populations

Medical researchers noted improvements in body composition, fat distribution and metabolic health in response to an eight-week very low-carbohydrate diet. Older adults with obesity are at particularly high risk of developing cardiometabolic disease such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Rather than total fat mass, deposition of fat in certain areas, such as the abdominal cavity and...

Anthropogenic CO2 increase is unprecedented

Even in earlier warm periods there were pulse-like releases of CO2 to the atmosphere. Today's anthropogenic CO2 rise, however, is more than six times larger and almost ten times faster than previous jumps in the CO2 concentration.

Fires, Blackouts, a Heat Wave and a Pandemic: California's 'Horrible' Month

VACAVILLE, Calif. -- How many things can go wrong at once?On Wednesday millions of California residents were smothered by smoke-filled skies as dozens of wildfires raged out of control. They braced for triple-digit temperatures, the sixth day of a punishing heat wave that included a recent reading of 130 degrees in Death Valley. They braced for possible power outages because the state's grid...

Larger variability in sea level expected as Earth warms

A team of researchers from the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) identified a global tendency for future sea levels to become more variable as oceans warm this century due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Sea level variability alters tidal cycles and enhances the risks of coastal flooding and erosion beyond changes associated with...