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Connor Bolton
Apr 17, 2022
In Science and Tech
Research Suggests Mushrooms Talk to Each Other With a Vocabulary of 50 ‘Words’: Mycologists studying the underground filaments of fungi are observing electrical signals similar to a nervous system: a normal phenomenon, except that they found the signals were remarkably similar to human language. When filaments called ‘hyphae’ of a wood-digesting fungal species discover a bit of wood to munch on the underground, the hyphae begin to light up with “spikes” of electrical signals that reach out to the hyphae of other individuals, and even trees. To see what characteristics these electrical impulse spikes share with the nervous system language of other lifeforms, Adamatzky put tiny electrodes into pieces of material, feeding on which were four species: enoki, split gill, ghost, and caterpillar fungi. The authors set the electrical spikes against a series of human linguistic phenomena that were used to successfully decode part of the carved language of the Picts, the Bronze Age people of Scotland. The average length of a human-expressed vowel is between 300 and 70 milliseconds, and so they assumed that if there was a 0-millisecond break between spikes, that was part of the same “word.” It was found that the C. militaris fungi electrical signals were almost identical to the English language more than Greek and averaged around 50 words based on repetitive signals. The researchers believe that these signal structures are meant to keep the connection between mycelium strong so that communication is seamless between their large communication networks across the forest. However, Adamatzky explained that the electrical signals could also be a result of the fungi exploring the forest underground. Light amplification accelerates chemical reactions in aerosols: Credit: CC0 Public Domain ETH researchers have now been able to demonstrate and quantify the reactions of aerosol particles/droplets to sunlight and have used the findings to recommend factoring it into future climate models. Using modern X-ray microscopy, chemists at ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have investigated how light amplification affects photochemical processes that take place in aerosols. They were able to demonstrate that light amplification causes these chemical processes to be two to three times faster on average than they would be without this effect. Also, on the opposite side of where sunlight was hitting the aerosol particles, the reactions were 10 times quicker on average also, informing them of a hotspot created by sunlight angling. This new research has informed climate researchers by creating a model of how all aerosols that react to sunlight in the atmosphere scatter and how they condensate and create clouds. As such, climate mapping and prediction can become all the more accurate so that climatologists can be properly informed of changes on the horizon of the Earth. Coastal cities around the globe are sinking: Manila in the Philippines is among the fastest sinking cities on the planet, with some areas subsiding up to 1.5 centimeters per year. MATTEO COLOMBO/DIGITALVISION/GETTY IMAGES Coastal cities around the globe are sinking by up to several centimeters per year, on average, satellite observations reveal. The one-two punch of subsiding land and rising seas means that these coastal regions are at greater risk for flooding than previously thought, researchers report in the April 16 Geophysical Research Letters. Matt Wei, an earth scientist at the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett, and colleagues studied 99 coastal cities on six continents. Wei and his team relied on observations made from 2015 to 2020 by a pair of European satellites. Instruments onboard beam microwave signals toward Earth and then record the waves that bounce back. By measuring the timing and intensity of those reflected waves, the team determined the height of the ground with millimeter accuracy. And because each satellite flies over the same part of the planet every 12 days, the researchers were able to trace how the ground deformed over time. The largest subsidence rates — up to five centimeters per year are mostly in Asian cities like Tianjin, China; Karachi, Pakistan; and Manila, Philippines, the team found. What’s more, one-third, or 33, of the analyzed cities are sinking in some places by more than a centimeter per year. Wei and his colleagues think that the subsidence is largely caused by people. When the researchers looked at Google Earth imagery of the regions within cities that were rapidly sinking, the team saw mostly residential or commercial areas. Sources: Research Suggests Mushrooms Talk to Each Other With a Vocabulary of 50 ‘Words’ (goodnewsnetwork.org) Light amplification accelerates chemical reactions in aerosols (phys.org) Coastal cities around the globe are sinking | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Apr 17, 2022
In Good News
Firefighters Rescue Bucket Full of Tiny Ducklings After They Fell Through the Holes of a Drainage Pipe: SWNS These ducklings were so tiny, that they fell through the gaps in a street’s drain cover while waddling toward an English park. Neil McIvor was cleaning up litter with his volunteer group in Stamford, Lincolnshire when he raised the alarm. Firefighters were then able to pry open the heavy drain and scoop up the brood, before giving them a rinse in a metal bucket. Because many potholes fill with water, the mother duck “sometimes takes her ducklings for a wash in the puddles.” As a result, when the mother gets washed away into the drain, the other ducklings follow. Now the mother and her ducklings are safe, cleaned up, and living their lives cheeping away as they go to the park where they reside. Pink Floyd Reunites to Record First New Material in 28 years – a Protest Song Against the Ukraine War: Three-fifths of Pink Floyd have reunited to release a protest song against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, their first new track in 28 years. Entitled Hey Hey, Rise Up! David Gilmour described the track as a show of “anger at a superpower invading a peaceful nation,” and features a Ukrainian musician singing the chorus refrain. David Gilmour is joined by drummer Nick Mason, long-time bassist Guy Pratt, and a new entry as Nitin Sahwney joins up with the keyboard. Work began on the song seven weeks ago, after Gilmour saw Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the band Boombox standing in Kyiv’s Sofia Square armed and dressed for battle against the Russian army. In an Instagram video, Khlyvnyk was singing The Red Viburnum In The Meadow, a song from the First World War. In a strange coincidence, Gilmour had shared a stage many acts removed with Boombox when they played a London benefit gig for the Belarus Free Theatre. The great guitarist wanted to sample his singing in Hey Hey, Rise Up! Protest is all well and good, but the band hopes it will also be a morale booster to the people of Ukraine and a call to peace. Constructive Feedback Is Surprisingly Welcome – So ‘Just do it’:\ People consistently underestimate others’ desire for constructive feedback and therefore don’t provide it, even when it could improve another person’s performance on a task, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. Constructive feedback is instrumental for aiding learning and performance, and research has shown that people commonly report wanting this type of feedback, according to the researchers. However, despite wanting constructive feedback themselves, people often avoid giving it to others. In a pilot study conducted by the researchers, only 2.6% of participants informed a tester of a visible smudge on his or her face (e.g., chocolate, lipstick, or red marker) during a survey. Previous research suggests a reason for this is fear of negative outcomes, but Abi-Esther and her team at Harvard theorize that people underestimate the value of their input also. To test their theory, the researchers conducted a series of five experiments involving 1,984 participants to measure how much people underestimate others’ desire for constructive feedback. In all five of these experiments, people underestimated their ability to give feedback and this underestimation increased as the magnitude of possible negative outcomes grew. However, with simple perspective-shifting questions such as “If you were this person, would you want feedback?” the likelihood of someone viewing their feedback as useful increased and people were more likely to give their perspective. Sources: Firefighters Rescue Bucket Full of Tiny Ducklings After They Fell Through the Holes of a Drainage Pipe (goodnewsnetwork.org) Pink Floyd Reunites to Record First New Material in 28 years – a Protest Song Against the Ukraine War (goodnewsnetwork.org) Constructive Feedback Is Surprisingly Welcome – So ‘Just do it’ (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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Connor Bolton
Apr 10, 2022
In Good News
Tiny Yorkshire Terrier Detects Breast Cancer in Woman, Jumping Up and Down on Her Chest in Alarm: 11-year-old Bella-Boo by Karena Kirk-Drain/ SWNS A Yorkshire Terrier saved her owner’s life after jumping up and down on her chest to alert her to a cancerous lump. Eleven-year-old pooch Bella Boo wouldn’t settle in her usual sleeping place and kept trying to lie on Karena Kirk-Drain’s chest despite being pushed away. The dog’s odd demeanor continued over the next three weeks, and she even started to cry. When she wouldn’t stop weeping, it left Karena concerned about her health, but baffled vets confirmed that she was fit and healthy. Karena called it “a heartbreaking cry,” and thought the dog was “obviously trying to tell me something.” She continued licking and hopping on the 53-year-old’s chest and then doctors confirmed the lump being jumped on was breast cancer. The Blackpool, Lancashire woman then underwent life-saving treatment and believes the disease would have been missed if it wasn’t for Bella-Boo’s actions. Vancouver Couple Converts Their Huge Resort Property into a Ukrainian Refugee Home for Dozens: Ukrainian Safe Haven Owners of a nature resort in British Colombia have put renovations on hold to open up the stunning 81-acre property exclusively for housing Ukrainian refugees. With their goal of hosting 100 people, the owners and operators of The Grouse Nest on Vancouver Island see the fleeing masses as equivalent to their own people, since Brian’s family comes from Ukraine. The 15,000 square-foot resort, which they were renovating into an event space and gallery, is nestled into a beautiful pine forest and surrounded by a crystal clear lake. The Holowaychuks decided to even reverse some of the work to ensure a livable space for as many people as possible. They’ve renamed their Grouse Nest property “Ukrainian Safe Haven”, and are now leasing the property for $1 a year to a new organization which a local law firm, McConnan Bion O’Connor & Peterson, helped format into a 501(c)3 nonprofit free of charge. Ukrainian refugees will be provided with food, education, transportation, and assistance with the settlement process to help get families back on their feet. They are invited to stay as long as they like. Nonprofit Protects More Than a Million Acres of Rainforest So Far This Year – All With Public Donations: Photo by Trond Larsen / Conservation International In September, a Virginia nonprofit made a $500 million commitment to preserving biodiversity and, six months later, the Rainforest Trust and its partners have already protected more than one million acres of habitat so far in 2022. Since 1988, Rainforest Trust has safeguarded more than 38 million acres of vital habitat by establishing protected areas in partnership with local communities—all through public donations. Acres protected this year include projects in Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The non-profit has been able to protect dozens of endangered species including turtles, frogs, spider monkeys, and sharks. Their work has helped preserve environments under threat and has opened up new doors to coexist with the natural world and preserve critical parts of ecosystems across the world. Sources: Tiny Yorkshire Terrier Detects Breast Cancer in Woman, Jumping Up and Down on Her Chest in Alarm (goodnewsnetwork.org) Vancouver Couple Converts Their Huge Resort Property into a Ukrainian Refugee Home for Dozens (goodnewsnetwork.org) Nonprofit Protects More Than a Million Acres of Rainforest So Far This Year – All With Public Donations (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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Connor Bolton
Apr 10, 2022
In Science and Tech
Researchers Find New Strategy for Preventing Clogged Arteries: Scientists have successfully minimized artery-narrowing plaque in mice and published their findings this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine did so by boosting chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA), a cellular housekeeping process discovered in 1993 and named in 2000. CMA keeps cells functioning normally by selectively degrading the many proteins that cells contain. Dr. And Maria Cuervo has deciphered many of the molecular players involved in CMA and shown that, through its timely degradation of key proteins, it regulates numerous intracellular processes including glucose and lipid metabolism, circadian rhythms, and DNA repair. She also found that disrupted CMA allows damaged proteins to accumulate to toxic levels, contributing to aging and when the toxic buildup occurs in nerve cells to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease. The study, published in PNAS, is the first to show that turning up CMA could be an effective way to prevent atherosclerosis from becoming severe or progressing. The CMA-boosted mice used in the experiments had greatly improved blood lipid profiles, with markedly reduced levels of cholesterol compared with the control mice. Quantum innovation advances low-cost alternative solar technology: Post-doctoral researcher Hao Chen shows off a prototype inverted perovskite solar cell. The team leveraged quantum mechanics to improve both the stability and efficiency of this alternative solar technology. Credit: Bin Chen A team of researchers from the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has leveraged quantum mechanics to create an optimal active layer in a device called an inverted perovskite solar cell. This new technological development is one step closer to the mass production of solar cells for a lower price on the market. At present, virtually all commercial solar cells are made from high-purity silicon, which takes significant energy to produce. However, a discovery made by the Sargent Group Lab has found an alternative called perovskite, which can absorb sunlight more efficiently while using less material than silicon. Through prototype development using the material has been used in the design of solar cells in a very thin layer, only three crystals high in length, to retain efficiency while reducing the cost of manufacturing. When testing the prototype, the material was able to retain 23.9% of sunlight energy at room temperature (the thin layer lasting 1,000 hours without a drop in efficiency) and was able to perform at around half capacity at high temperatures (around 500 hours at 65 degrees Celsius with a lower-level efficient output). Although there are currently limitations to the amount of heat the material can withstand research is being done to optimize the stability of the new active layer in solar cells. Leeches expose wildlife’s whereabouts and may aid conservation efforts: Ecologists are using bloodthirsty leeches to evaluate the success of wildlife conservation efforts in China. MRFIZA/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS Leeches suck. Most people try to avoid them. However, in the summer of 2016 park rangers in China’s Ailaoshan Nature Reserve went hunting for the little blood gluttons. For months, the rangers searched through the reserve’s evergreen forest, gathering tens of thousands of leeches by hand and sometimes plucking the slimy parasites from the rangers’ own skin. Each time the rangers found a leech, they would place it into a little, preservative-filled tube, tuck the tube into a hip pack and carry on. The work could help aid conservation efforts, at Ailaoshan and elsewhere. These bloodthirsty worms though it seems odd, are actually incredibly helpful for conservation efforts. Leeches aren’t picky eaters they’ll feast on the blood of many different creatures, from amphibians to mammals to fish. Scientists have shown they can extract animal DNA from the blood that leeches and other bloodsucking creatures have ingested, what’s known as invertebrate-derived DNA, or iDNA, and identify the source animal. What’s more, the iDNA gave clues to where the animals preferred to roam, the researchers report March 23 in Nature Communications. This has allowed scientists to find unusual behaviors in nature preserves and will allow more accurate remedies to allow habitats to grow and thrive. Sources: Researchers Find New Strategy for Preventing Clogged Arteries (goodnewsnetwork.org) Quantum innovation advances low-cost alternative solar technology (phys.org) Leeches expose wildlife’s whereabouts and may aid conservation efforts | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Apr 03, 2022
In Science and Tech
EV Charging Answer: Quantum Technology Will Cut Time it Takes to Charge Electric Cars to Just 9 Seconds: Institute for Basic Science Scientists in South Korea have proven that a new technology model will cut the time it takes to charge electric cars to just nine seconds, allowing EV owners to ‘fill up’ as fast as their gasoline counterparts. Even those plugging in at home will have the time slashed from 10 hours to three minutes. The new device uses the laws of quantum physics to power all of a battery’s cells at once instead of one at a time, so recharging takes no longer than filling up at the pump. Scientists at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea have come up with the model for the super-fast charging station and have found through research that it allows a common electric car with 200 cells to charge 200 times faster than a conventional charging station. Though this model has yet to be applied to a physical charging station prototype, it has the potential to revolutionize the car market and save more time in our fast-paced world. New study solves mystery of how soft liquid droplets erode hard surfaces: The above image shows the impact droplets can make on a granular, sandy surface (left) versus a hard, plaster (right) surface. Credit: Cheng Research Group, University of Minnesota A first-of-its-kind study led by University of Minnesota Twin Cities researchers reveals why liquid droplets have the ability to erode hard surfaces. Using a newly developed technique, the researchers were able to measure hidden quantities such as the shear stress and pressure created by the impact of liquid droplets on surfaces. It's common knowledge that slow-dripping water droplets can erode surfaces over time, but why can something seemingly soft and fluid make such a huge impact on hard surfaces? Using a technique called high-stress speed microscopy the researchers at the University of Minnesota were able to measure quantitatively the force, stress, and pressure undeath a dropping water droplet. They found that instead of the force being concentrated at the center of the droplet, the force extends in a shockwave as the water droplet spreads out on impact, sometimes faster than the speed of sound. Thus, each droplet behaves like a small bomb, releasing its impact energy explosively and giving it the force necessary to erode surfaces over time. Besides paving a new way to study droplet impact, this research could help engineers design more erosion-resistant surfaces for applications that must weather the outdoor elements. We finally have a fully complete human genome: New technologies that allow scientists to put DNA bases, represented by the letters A, T, C and G, in order have helped researchers put together one of the world’s most complex puzzles, a complete human genome Researchers have finally deciphered a complete human genetic instruction book from cover to cover. An international team of researchers, including Eichler, used new DNA sequencing technology to untangle repetitive stretches of DNA that were redacted from an earlier version of the genome, widely used as a reference for guiding biomedical research. Deciphering those tricky stretches adds about 200 million DNA bases, about 8 percent of the genome, to the instruction book, researchers report in Science. The new deciphered genomes contain the first-ever looks at the short arms of some chromosomes, long-lost genes, and important parts of chromosomes called centromeres where machinery responsible for divvying up DNA grips the chromosome. New patterns in the sequencing of DNA strands, new variants of DNA, and gene regulation mechanisms have been discovered which has furthered our understanding of what changes occur within genes to make us who we are. Furthermore, due to the newly completed genome biomedical scientists may give scientists a much better understanding of markers for genetic disease, changes in human medical condition, and how exactly we evolve. Much of the genome discovered was that of European descent, and due to this new research is being conducted to see how other geographic and racial genomes differ across the world. Sources: EV Charging Answer: Quantum Technology Will Cut Time it Takes to Charge Electric Cars to Just 9 Seconds (goodnewsnetwork.org) New study solves mystery of how soft liquid droplets erode hard surfaces (phys.org) We finally have a fully complete human genome | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Apr 03, 2022
In Good News
The Newest Cadbury Bunny is… a Therapy Dog Named Annie Rose!: Lori R. The votes are in, and America has chosen an adorable dog as the winner of the fourth-annual Cadbury Bunny Tryouts. After receiving thousands of votes from fans across the country, Annie Rose is putting her bunny ears back on and joining the Cadbury Hall of Fame. An English Doodle, Annie Rose is used to being in the spotlight. She loves bringing smiles to the faces of seniors so much so that not even a global pandemic can stop her. When COVID-19 restrictions meant no visitors to nursing homes, Annie Rose didn’t give up. Instead, she dressed up strutting her stuff outside the nursing home windows. Annie Rose will star in this year’s Cadbury Clucking Bunny commercial and will take home a $5,000 cash prize, along with plenty of bragging rights for when she visits local nursing homes in her home state of Ohio. The Worse The Pandemic, The More Generously Americans Donated to Others – to Record Level: Individuals in the USA showed greater financial generosity when under threat from COVID-19, according to new research. The researchers used the world’s largest tracker of financial charity from the years leading up to and then proceeding into the pandemic, while also conducting controlled experimental games. Both inquiries found that the pandemic made Americans more generous with their capital. The first dataset found that 78% of U.S. counties with a COVID-19 threat increased the total amount donated in March 2020 compared to March 2019. Even more encouraging, the charitable amounts increased the most when the degree of danger from the virus was highest: 32.9% under high threat vs 28.5% under medium threat compared to no threat. The second data set of 1,000 people came from a controlled experiment using the “dictator game” in which one player (the dictator) receives $10 and makes a unilateral decision on how to divide it between themselves and a stranger. However, contrary to previous results, dictators were almost 10% more generous with their $10 stake after COVID-19 arrived in the individual’s country and was the same regardless of differences in age and political affiliation. Guess Who’s Curating New Exhibit at Baltimore Museum of Art? Their Staff of Security Guards: The Baltimore Museum of Art Guarding the Art is a special exhibition at the BMA curated entirely by the security detail. 17 members were each asked to select three pieces that they wanted to exhibit, and over the early days of the pandemic, they were tutored on how to curate, set lighting, and write placards. Guarding the Art was first imagined back in February 2020 when BMA trustee Amy Elias and Chief Curator Asma Naeem were talking over dinner about how to get the security guards more involved, and how to get different perspectives into the museum. What they found is that the team had more than enough love, curiosity, and knowledge of the art profession to curate an entire exhibition. With 95,000 pieces in the museum’s collection and only 1,800 on display at any given period, it’s no wonder the men and women who spend all day looking at them did an excellent job. Sources: The Newest Cadbury Bunny is... a Therapy Dog Named Annie Rose! (goodnewsnetwork.org) The Worse The Pandemic, The More Generously Americans Donated to Others – to Record Level (goodnewsnetwork.org) Guess Who’s Curating New Exhibit at Baltimore Museum of Art? Their Staff of Security Guards (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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Connor Bolton
Mar 27, 2022
In Science and Tech
New Enzyme Discovery is Another Leap Towards Dissolving Plastic Waste With ‘Amazing Efficiency’: Credit- RITA CLARE / MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY Scientists who helped pioneer the use of enzymes to eat plastic have taken an important next step in developing nature-based solutions to the global plastics crisis. They have characterized an enzyme that has the remarkable capacity to break down terephthalate (TPA)—one of the chemical building blocks of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, which is used to make single-use drinks bottles, clothing and carpets. The research was co-led by Professor Jen DuBois of Montana State University, and Professor John McGeehan from the University of Portsmouth in England. In 2018, McGeehan led the international team that engineered a natural enzyme that could break down PET plastic. The enzymes (PETase and MHETase) break the PET polymer into the chemical building blocks ethylene glycol and TPA. With more than 400 million tons of plastic waste produced each year, it is hoped this work will open the door to improve bacterial enzymes, such as TPADO. Revamped design could take powerful biological computers from the test tube to the cell: Tiny biological computers made of DNA could revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat a slew of diseases, once the technology is fully fleshed out. While previously impossible, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may have developed long-lived biological computers that could potentially persist inside cells. The results demonstrate that the RNA circuits are as dependable and versatile as their DNA-based counterparts. What's more, living cells may be able to create these RNA circuits continuously, something that is not readily possible with DNA circuits, further positioning RNA as a promising candidate for powerful, long-lasting biological computers. Much like the computer or smart device you are likely reading this on, biological computers can be programmed to carry out different kinds of tasks. By assembling a specific sequence of bases into a strand of nucleic acid, researchers can dictate what it binds to which can dictate reactions of the body to many different diseases. Outputs created through the binding of nucleic acids like DNA and RNA can result in signals for medical diagnostics to catch things early or even may result in a therapeutic drug to treat disease and other medical conditions. How the way we’re taught to round numbers in school falls short: A method taught in school for rounding numbers doesn’t work well for certain uses, including in machine learning. Now, a different way of rounding is making a “resurgence,” researchers say. MARCO GUIDI/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES The rounding to the nearest number technique is particularly useful for estimating numbers without a calculator, but it falls short of being truly correct, especially when it comes to machine learning. Mantas Mikaitis, a computer scientist at the University of Manchester in England says that an alternative technique called stochastic rounding is better suited for applications where the round-to-nearest approach falls short. This technique isn’t meant to be done in your head. Instead, a computer program rounds to a certain number with probabilities that are based on the distance of the actual measurement from that number. For instance, 2.8 has an 80 percent chance of rounding to three and a 20 percent chance of rounding to two. By making sure that rounding doesn’t always go in the same direction for a particular number, this process helps guard against what’s known as stagnation. That problem “means that the real result is growing while the computer’s result” isn’t, Mikaitis says. “It’s about losing many tiny measurements that add up to a major loss in the final result.” Most computers aren’t yet equipped to perform true stochastic rounding, Mikaitis notes. The machines lack hardware random number generators, which are needed to execute the probabilistic decision of which way to round. However, Mikaitis and his colleagues have devised a method to simulate stochastic rounding in these computers by combining the round-to-nearest method with three other types of rounding. Sources: New Enzyme Discovery is Another Leap Towards Dissolving Plastic Waste With ‘Amazing Efficiency’ (goodnewsnetwork.org) Revamped design could take powerful biological computers from the test tube to the cell (phys.org) How the way we’re taught to round numbers in school falls short | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Mar 27, 2022
In Good News
Holocaust Survivors Reunite in Florida After a Labor Camp Friendship was Broken 80 Years Ago: Sam Ron (left) and Jack Waksal (right) – Red Banyan Those who say there’s no such thing as destiny need to meet Jack Waksal and Sam Ron, victims who met during the Holocaust, and who met again 79 years later in South Florida. Having endured slave labor shoulder to shoulder in the Pionki Labor Camp in Poland, the two were separated after Waksal escaped into the forest, and Ron was moved to a different camp that was ultimately liberated. Just teenagers at the time of their imprisonment, the two managed to both immigrate to the United States, specifically to Ohio, where they both lived for 40 years unaware of each other’s existence before eventually moving to South Florida. Neither knew the other had survived until Waksal attended a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s South Florida Dinner last Sunday and found his old camp comrade to be the guest speaker. Introduced by his former name of Shmuel Rakowski, Waksal felt as if he was seeing a fraternal brother. Despite living 40 miles apart, the two men are determined to keep the survivor’s flames burning and fill in the massive gap of years with life stories. Ron occasionally makes appearances at schools to teach young people about his experiences. Britain’s Royal Mint is Salvaging Gold from E-Waste – Recycling Precious Metals for Green Investors: Credit: British Royal Mint Perhaps the least-debated of all environmental dangers, unrecycled electronic waste is piling up around the world at alarming rates. Inside every laptop and smartphone is an electronic circuit board and gold is used as an insulator and a conductor of sensitive components. Now, the British Royal Mint has placed this gold at the center of its sustainability strategy going forward. The mint is using patented new chemistry created by Canadian-based Excir to recover and reuse the gold, and other metals, within these old circuit boards. The unique chemistry is capable of recovering almost 100% of the precious metals contained within electronic waste selectively targeting the metal in seconds. However, it is biodegradable and has a negligible impact on the environment. Construction of a new plant in South Wales should be completed this year and will be up and running in 2023. The plant is capable of processing 90 tons of circuit boards every week while producing hundreds of kilograms of gold. Road in London Closes for Nearly a Month to Protect Migrating Toads as They Hop to the Other Side: SWNS A stretch of road in London has been closed to traffic for more than three weeks to allow toads to cross in safety to ponds where they breed. A 400-meter (1,300-foot) section of Church Road in Ham, near Richmond, is blocked to motorists until the start of April so the creatures don’t get squished on their annual migration. ‘Toad patrol’ volunteers man the road which meanders through a leafy stretch of Richmond Park at night, but the road remains blocked off all day. The charity Froglife, which is responsible for recruiting volunteers, says the road, which is one of many across Britain that take part in the eco-conscious project, is among just a handful that remains completely blocked off to traffic. The Richmond council says it is not too disruptive as the road is normally quiet, has few houses along it, and the diversion is not painfully long. Many people have stopped by to poke fun at the sign on the closed road and a steady stream of walkers come to take pictures to share with friends. Sources: Holocaust Survivors Reunite in Florida After a Labor Camp Friendship was Broken 80 Years Ago (goodnewsnetwork.org) Britain's Royal Mint is Salvaging Gold from E-Waste – Recycling Precious Metals for Green Investors (goodnewsnetwork.org) Road in London Closes for Nearly a Month to Protect Migrating Toads as They Hop to the Other Side - Good News Network
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Connor Bolton
Mar 20, 2022
In Science and Tech
Carbon-Negative Plant Opens in Turkey Turning Algae Into Bio-Jet Fuel and So Much More: İMBİYOTAB Bogazici University Europe’s first large-scale biorefinery for turning algae into fuels and feedstocks has been completed on the Black Sea shore of Istanbul. Set to head up a new “bio-economy,” the refinery, powered entirely by wind energy, will turn microalgae and macroalgae species into carbon-negative jet fuel, feedstocks, supplements, and fertilizers. They are carbon negative because algae absorb CO2 as plants do, but far faster and in much greater amounts than woody plants like trees. Once processed into products, more of that carbon pulled from the atmosphere remains imprisoned than is released during production, hence it being carbon negative. The project was funded in partnership by the government of Turkey and the European Union and is just one of several initiatives dubbed Project INDEPENDENT. The biorefinery, located at Boğaziçi University’s Sarıtepe Campus, can process 1,200 tons of algae per year. Reporting on the refinery says that the algae will be used to produce jet fuel that, when mixed with 5-10% fossil fuels, will power a flight leaving Istanbul by the end of the year. Turning any camera into a polarization camera: The grating is mounted just in front of the front face of a chosen objective lens in a tube that also houses a bandpass filter and a field stop. This is shown implemented (top), as a schematic (bottom). Credit: Capasso Lab/Harvard SEAS Polarization, the direction in which light vibrates, provides a lot of information about the objects with which it interacts, from aerosols in the atmosphere to the magnetic field of stars. However, because this quality of light is invisible to human eyes, researchers and engineers have relied on specialized, expensive, and bulky cameras to capture it, until now. Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a metasurface attachment that can turn just about any camera or imaging system, even off-the-shelf systems, into polarization cameras. Many of the application of this attachment can make normal cameras able to have complex functions such as face recognition, self-driving car sensors, and active machine imaging (security and robotic applications) where the picture is both more detailed and more efficient. To put the attachment onto a camera it is simply twisted onto the objective lens (the main camera lens) and then can polarize any image when you take a picture. How it is able to do this is through its nanopillars which direct light into four separate parts of polarization imaging and then combine each of the parts into one, completing a full snapshot at the level of every single pixel within a photograph. Regardless of the size or function of a camera, the versatile design allows it to be attached to anything from large room-size telescopes to small spy cameras. A gene therapy for hemophilia boosts levels of a crucial clotting protein: A young man with hemophilia gives himself a treatment for the blood disorder on Galdhøpiggen Mountain in Norway. People with the disease need regular infusions of a crucial clotting protein, as their bodies don’t make enough. PHILARTPHACE/ISTOCK UNRELEASED/GETTY IMAGES A gene-based therapy is potentially a step closer to becoming a one-time treatment for men with hemophilia. The life-threatening genetic disorder hinders the body’s ability to form blood clots. In hemophilia A (inherited), the most common type, the gene responsible for a blood-clotting protein called factor VIII has errors, leading the body to produce an insufficient amount of the protein. A new study describes how 132 men with a severe form of the disease who received one infusion of the gene therapy fared. A year later, 88 percent of them had factor VIII levels high enough to have either a mild form or no disease, researchers report March 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The gene therapy, called valoctocogene roxaparvovec, consists of a one-time infusion containing genetic instructions for producing factor VIII, delivered by an adeno-associated virus, which does not cause disease. The virus is taken up by many different cells, but only liver cells can use the instructions to make the clotting protein. However, the therapy didn’t work for a small percentage of the participants, how long the infusion’s effects last is unknown, and the therapy caused most participants with a worrying side effect of overproduction of a liver enzyme that signals inflammation in the tissue. Sources: Carbon-Negative Plant Opens in Turkey Turning Algae Into Bio-Jet Fuel and So Much More (goodnewsnetwork.org) Turning any camera into a polarization camera (phys.org) A gene therapy for hemophilia boosts levels of a clotting protein | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Mar 20, 2022
In Good News
UK’s Most Premature Twins Finally Go Home 5 Months After Being Given 0% Chance of Survival: SWNS ‘The UK’s most premature twins’ have finally headed home from the hospital just five months after their birth when they were given a zero percent chance of survival. Little Harley and Harry Crane were conceived via IVF and were born at 22 weeks and five days. Babies born after only five months of development are not classed as legally viable, but the hardy siblings clung to life, and have amazed doctors. Jade Crane, the mother of the miracle twins, had tried to get pregnant naturally for over three years with no luck. She decided to start an IVF (in vitro fertilization) which is a process of removing mature ovaries, fertilizing them in the lab, and reinserting the fertilized eggs back into the uterus. She experienced many miscarriages with IVF throughout 11 years and it seemed hopeless. However, now the miracle twins are heading home with Jade this week to their home in Derby, just 2 and half weeks past their original due date. Even with many doctors saying that the babies were born with many defects, the twins have defied the odds and will go down in medical history as the toughest babies in the U.K. Strangers are Leaving Strollers, Diapers, and Toys at the Border for Ukrainian Refugee Moms: An image recently shared around social media of empty strollers on a Polish rail border crossing has inspired a mountain of donations for Ukrainian refugees. Now at Przemyśl Station, women, children, and infants fleeing the war are being greeted by mountains of clothes, stuffed animals, strollers, diapers, and more after they step off the train. ABC reports that the number of spare carriers and strollers from Polish mothers have been particularly inspiring, with many donators leaving handwritten notes behind, with words of support. The effort has become more organized over the weeks which CNN details have spread like wildfire mostly by word of mouth. The Medyka border crossing from Ukraine involves taking a train to Przemyśl Station, which has become the center of the relief effort. The rooms of the train station are now being transformed from waiting rooms into warehouses, for food, diapers, and clothes. Beyond the station, people from across Europe have been seen waiting in cars offering to drive incoming refugees to wherever they have relations or a place to stay. NBA Basketball Star Donates Full Salary This Season to Build Hospital in DR Congo to Honor Father: Bismack Biyombo Foundation Bismack Biyombo, returning to the NBA after a year as a free agent, has announced he will donate the entire $1.3 million value of his contract to the construction of a hospital in his home town in Congo. Taking last season off to care for his sick father, who passed away in August of 2021, Biyombo said he became aware of just how fortunate he was simply to be able to bring his father to the hospital. The construction will be carried out through the Bismack Biyombo Foundation, which uses the star’s success as an NBA player to help those in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the early pandemic, the Foundation delivered $1 million in medical supplies to hospitals across the country. The hospital will be named in honor of the man whom Miyombo described as “my friend, my business partner, my mentor, and everything.” Sources: UK's Most Premature Twins Finally Go Home 5 Months After Being Given 0% Chance of Survival (goodnewsnetwork.org) Strangers are Leaving Strollers, Diapers, and Toys at the Border for Ukrainian Refugee Moms (LOOK) (goodnewsnetwork.org) NBA Basketball Star Donates Full Salary This Season to Build Hospital in DR Congo to Honor Father (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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Connor Bolton
Mar 13, 2022
In Science and Tech
Scientists Create Algorithm That Uses Routine Eye Scans to Identify Heart Attack Risk With Accuracy of 70%-80%: Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that can analyze eye scans taken during a routine visit to an optician or eye clinic and identify patients at a high risk of a heart attack. Doctors have recognized that changes to the tiny blood vessels in the retina are indicators of broader vascular disease, including problems with the heart. In the research, led by the University of Leeds, deep learning techniques were used to train an AI system to automatically read retinal scans and identify those people who, over the following year, were likely to have a heart attack. During the deep learning process, the AI system analyzed the retinal scans and cardiac scans of more than 5,000 people. The AI system identified associations between pathology in the retina and changes in the patient’s heart. Once the image patterns were learned, the AI system could estimate the size and pumping efficiency of the left ventricle, one of the heart’s four chambers, from retinal scans alone. An enlarged ventricle is linked with an increased risk of heart disease. With information on the estimated size of the left ventricle and its pumping efficiency combined with basic demographic data about the patient, their age, and sex, the AI system could predict their risk of a heart attack over the subsequent 12 months. Researcher makes magnetic reconnection breakthrough that may help predict space weather: Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain A West Virginia University postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy has made a breakthrough in the study of magnetic reconnection, which could prevent space storms from wreaking havoc on the Earth's satellite and power grid systems. The researcher, whose name is Pyun Shi, is part of the PHASMA Project and has experimented with laser-based diagnostics and plasma to better predict how the universe works. For his experiment, Shi uses a laser-based diagnostic to probe plasma. Laser beams are directed in the diagnostic and the light scatters off of electrons. The way the light scatters gives insight into how fast the electrons are moving and since the plasma is more than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the lasers allow for measuring particles without using a probe or a thermometer which would melt at such high temperatures. The research will give greater insight into how fast electrons move within space, which can help predict events such as solar flares and ultraviolet emission increases that threaten satellite systems, astronauts, and even power grids on Earth. Through the facilities provided by the PHASMA project, all of the measurements can be made three-dimensional which will make it much easier to predict these events on a more realistic scale. Ancient Homo sapiens took talent for cultural creativity from Africa to Asia: Discoveries at this site in southern Africa indicate that a small, relatively isolated human group developed cultural innovations between 92,000 and 80,000 years ago. Alex Blackwood, A. Mackay ET AL/NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION 2022 Creativity runs deep in human evolution. Stone Age people steered their cultures through some inventive twists and turns as far-flung groups of Homo sapiens independently learned to cope with harsh African environments and unfamiliar Asian settings, two new reports suggest. It was previously believed that only closely located resource-rich coastal communities were responsible for most of the tool and creative innovation of our species. However, due to finds away from the coasts of Africa (at the Varche River site VR003) many innovations such as water containers made from eggshells, terrain-specific tools, and other innovative inventions found this has been called into question. Some of these inventions had been made as far as 105,000 years ago (the ostrich egg water container) and typically settled around the 92,000-80,000 year range in largely isolated and low-density communities. This was further supported by a second study that examined the Nihewan Basin, which is far inland in northern China, where pigment use was found in rock fragments recovered from the pit. The fragments were found to be over 9,000 years older than the oldest recorded pigments found in China at about 40,000 years old. More tiny tools that resembled the ones found in the African study were also found to be from a similar time period compared to the pigmented rock. Sources: Scientists Create Algorithm That Uses Routine Eye Scans to Identify Heart Attack Risk—With Accuracy of 70%-80% (goodnewsnetwork.org) Researcher makes magnetic reconnection breakthrough that may help predict space weather (phys.org) Ancient Homo sapiens were more culturally creative than once thought | Science News
Science and Tech Summaries-(3/7-3/13) content media
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Connor Bolton
Mar 13, 2022
In Good News
People Are Booking So Many Airbnbs in Ukraine–They Raise $2M for Hosts in Need, and Never Even Check-in: From March 2nd to March 3rd, people from around the world booked 61,000 nights in Ukrainian cities via Airbnb, likely not one ever planning to check-in, or reschedule. It’s part of a creative social media campaign to channel funds into besieged cities where something like aid drops or supply trucks can’t reach, and it has seen $1.9 million raised for Ukrainians in just those 48 hours. Airbnb has said it is offering temporary housing in neighboring countries to up to 100,000 Ukrainians who are fleeing. It’s also waiving guest and host fees in the country to support individuals donating. One way anyone can help is by opening their home to Ukrainian refugees as an Airbnb host, for which the company will cover you with Aircover, a one-million-dollar hosting insurance policy. Airbnb also partners with non-profits and charities to help contribute to the guests’ basic needs. Other organizations like Etsy and The Red Cross are pitching in as well. Etsy has canceled the current balances owed to the company by all sellers in Ukraine, which includes listing fees, transaction fees, advertising fees, and more which is a roughly $4 million relief package. The Red Cross of Ireland also has organized housing pledges for refugees and over 4,000 pledges have already been made, which crashed their online system. A temporary protective measure has also been activated in Ireland which grants those fleeing from Ukraine with basic medical care, temporary housing, access to the labor market, and education and social welfare. Denver’s Program to Dispatch Mental Health Teams Instead of Police is So Successful it is Expanding 5-Fold: Denver Police Department After dispatching mental health teams, instead of police officers, to certain 911 emergency calls, the city of Denver is proclaiming its pilot program a huge success and is expanding it significantly. Since June 2020, the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) has deployed medical and behavioral health clinicians to respond to over 2,200 low-risk calls reporting trespassing, intoxication, or mental health crises involving poverty, homelessness, or addiction. In all that time, STAR teams have never called for police back-up due to a safety issue, according to their January report. The Denver Post reports that STAR teams have driven hundreds of miles, assisted suicidal people and schizophrenics; they’ve also handed out water and socks and connected people to shelter, food and resources. STAR’s advisory team, consisting of 15 volunteer citizens, hopes that with six vans, they can respond to more than 10,000 calls a year. Funding for the expansion was bolstered by a $1.4 million grant from the Caring For Denver Foundation. The program has been so successful that there are calls from other cities within Colorado to create similar programs which include Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins. Public officials of Colorado believe that this program is the first step to treat medical disorders through non-violent medical means instead of through the criminal system. A Pod of Whales Adopted a Young Stray Narwhal – and They May Have Little ‘Narwhales’: It’s rare to find a narwhal as far south as Canada’s St. Lawrence River, but it does occasionally happen. However, when a narwhal travels so far south and returns every year amid a pod of beluga whales it can only be described as miraculous. Marine biologists in Quebec have had the pleasure of studying this fascinating phenomenon: a narwhal traveling, eating, and living with a pod of young male beluga whales as they cruise down the province’s famous river. Drone footage indicates this unique black sheep is male, and well-fed, indicating that he’s been adopted into the pod. GREMM has been studying this pod of belugas who have returned every year since 2016 and they believe that they are now reaching sexual maturity which could result in a hybrid species. In 2019, an Ontario/Denmark team of researchers confirmed the existence of narlugas (a narwhal beluga hybrid) through an analysis of a skull received by a hunter-gatherer in Greenland. Lacking the long horn of the narwhal (which is a canine tooth) yet possessing characteristics of both animals, it gave some forensic evidence to known first-hand accounts of hybrids between the species. This study indicates that much like lions and tigers, it is possible for narwhals and beluga whales to procreate to create unlikely hybrid species. Much is not known about how the narwhals and the belugas can communicate and facilitate this, but it raises interesting questions about cross-communication between animal species. Sources: Denver's Program to Dispatch Mental Health Teams Instead of Police is So Successful it is Expanding 5-Fold (goodnewsnetwork.org) A Pod of Whales Adopted a Young Stray Narwhal – and They May Have Little 'Narwhales' (goodnewsnetwork.org) People Are Booking So Many Airbnbs in Ukraine–They Raise $2M for Hosts in Need, and Never Even Check-in (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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Connor Bolton
Feb 26, 2022
In Science and Tech
Your Brain Doesn’t Slow Down Until You’re in Your 60s – Later Than Thought: Mental speed, which is the speed at which we can deal with issues requiring rapid decision-making, does not change substantially over decades. Psychologists at Heidelberg University have come to this conclusion. Under the leadership of Dr Mischa von Krause and Dr Stefan Radev, they evaluated data from a large-scale online experiment with over a million participants. The findings of the new study suggest that the speed of cognitive information processing remains largely stable between the ages of 20 and 60, and only deteriorates at higher ages. Another finding of the study was that average information processing speed only progressively declined with participants over the age of 60.The Heidelberg researchers have hereby called into question the assumption to date that mental speed starts to decline already in early adulthood. In order to verify this theory, the researchers reevaluated data from a large-scale American study on implicit biases. When evaluating the data, Dr von Krause and his colleagues noted that, on average, the response times of the test subjects rose with increasing age. However, with the aid of a mathematical model, they were able to show that this phenomenon was not due to changes in mental speed. The chemistry behind your LCD flat-screen devices- How a scientist changed the world: Credit: Andre_Popov/shutterstock In a laboratory at the University of Hull 50 years ago, a new chemical compound was created that would impact the world as much as any drug, fuel or material. The man responsible for this society-changing invention was George Gray—his new liquid crystal molecules (now known as 5CB) made liquid crystal displays (LCDs) viable and kickstarted the multibillion-dollar flat-screen industry. The structure of LCDs is made of liquid crystals and small LED lights where the liquid crystal connects with each LED light to polarize the light released. This allows order within the LCD system and allows only certain orientations of light through, making a clear picture possible. In order to create the effect of turning LCDs on and off two layers of filters which when oriented the same way over one another lets light through, but when oriented in opposite directions causes light to not be let through, which allows an LCD screen to turn on and off. However, this reorientation ability was only possible through the discovery of George Gray who was able to develop a liquid crystal that was positively charged at one end. This new compound would allow the creation of the first LCD screen and would become the thinnest form of television ever created. A rare collision of dead stars can bring a new one to life: A carbon-and-oxygen-rich star with a helium-burning core may rise out of the merging of two dead stars called white dwarfs (illustrated). NICOLE REINDL (CC BY 4.0) Like a phoenix, some stars may burst to life covered in “ash,” rising from the remains of stars that had previously passed on. Two newfound fireballs that burn hundreds of times as bright as the sun and are covered in carbon and oxygen, ashy byproducts of helium fusion, belong to a new class of stars, researchers report in the March Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. Though these blazing orbs are not the first stellar bodies found covered in carbon and oxygen, an analysis of the light emitted by the stars suggests they are the first discovered to also have helium-burning cores. The stars may have formed from the merging of two white dwarfs, the remnant hearts of stars that exhausted their fuel, another team proposes in a companion study. Such a merger would have produced a stellar body covered in carbon and oxygen with enough mass to reignite nuclear fusion in its core, causing it to burn hot and glow brilliantly. To test this hypothesis, Battich and her colleagues simulated the evolution, death, and eventual merging of two stars according to Tiara Battich and her team. The team found that aggregating a carbon-and-oxygen-rich white dwarf onto a more massive helium one could explain the surface compositions of the two stars observed by Reindl and her colleagues. Sources: Your Brain Doesn't Slow Down Until You're in Your 60s – Later Than Thought (goodnewsnetwork.org) The chemistry behind your LCD flat-screen devices: How a scientist changed the world (phys.org) A rare collision of dead stars can bring a new one to life | Science News
Science and Tech Summaries: (2/21-2/27) content media
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Connor Bolton
Feb 26, 2022
In Good News
A Homemade Bumper Sticker Saved a Stranger’s Life After She Asked the Universe For ‘a Sign’: Twitter/@Brooke_Lacey When you’re headed down a dark road and feeling hopeless, sometimes all it takes to get you headed back in the right direction is a little sign, or in this case, a bumper sticker. Like many who have felt the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22-year-old university student Brooke Lacey had her share of issues. After Lacey won her battle against depression, in the hope of helping others, the New Zealand native was inspired to create a batch of 600 signs that read: “Please don’t take your life today. The world is so much better with you in it. More than you realize, stay.” Lacey hung laminated versions of the message on bridges and overpasses, and next to railroads and waterways around the capital city of Wellington. She even had the saying inscribed on a bumper sticker. But the sentiment was the furthest thing from her mind when she found a piece of very unusual correspondence on the windshield of the car she’d parked in the university lot. “I left my house with a plan and asked for a sign, any sign, I was doing the right thing when I saw your car in the parking lot,” the note read. As long as the message is heartfelt, even something as simple as a sign, or a bumper sticker, can save a life. A Gorgeous Bat Falcon Spotted for the First Time in the United States: Joao Quental, CC license Birders are flocking to Texas to see a bird that lives thousands of leagues to the south make its first-ever recorded appearance on U.S. shores. This particular individual, suspected of being only a juvenile, has been here since last year, but only began making headlines after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted some images of the bird, snapped by one Peter Witt, resting on a branch with a big juicy dragonfly in its beak. Living in Mexico, Trinidad, and South America, the bat falcon is characterized by a white and rust neck, rust rump, white chest bars, and yellow spectacles. Border Report tells the story of Ray Sharpton, a 77-year old retiree, who hopped in his car at 3 a.m. and drove 34 hours from upstate New York to see the bird, adding that there are even birders coming from Europe to see it. Snowmobilers Spotted a Moose Stuck Under Ice and Worked for Hours to Free it: Last week, a pair of Anchorage snowmobilers rescued a moose trapped beneath the ice of a frozen creek. To an Alaskan, a moose is not a cuddly member of the deer family, but rather a very dangerous and ornery animal, yet Andrew Koerner and his friend Terry White wasted no time digging an eight-foot-wide hole around the creature to allow it to escape. It took an hour and a half, during which several passersby stopped to pitch in with the digging, and one even happened to have a sledgehammer to break apart the ice. Koerner and White could tell immediately that the moose had been in there awhile. It had rubbed off a lot of the hair on the back of its neck and looked thin. Finally though, when it was clear the moose had enough room to escape, they gave it some space and time to relax and climb out. Sources: A Homemade Bumper Sticker Saved a Stranger's Life After She Asked the Universe For ‘a Sign' (goodnewsnetwork.org) A Gorgeous Bat Falcon Spotted for the First Time in the United States (goodnewsnetwork.org) Snowmobilers Spotted a Moose Stuck Under Ice and Worked for Hours to Free it - WATCH (goodnewsnetwork.org)
Good News Summaries: (2/21-2/27) content media
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Connor Bolton
Feb 20, 2022
In Science and Tech
New Study Busts the 7 ‘Dog Years’ Myth and Explores Data That Could Help Humans Live Longer: Camden Olson A new study into how long dogs live busts the myth that each of our years is seven for dogs and could even help humans live longer. A commonly-held belief is that dogs age seven times faster than us, so a one-year-old dog is like a seven-year-old child, but large breeds age ten times quicker than us, and some small dogs can be half of that. Now scientists are studying the genomes of 10,000 dogs in a long-term study called the Dog Aging Project where they will investigate why certain dogs can live 20 years and apply what they learn to humans. They anticipate that their findings will translate to human aging, for several reasons, dogs experience nearly every functional decline and disease of aging that people do. The extent of veterinary care parallels human healthcare in many ways, and our dogs share our lived environments, a major determinant of aging and one that cannot be replicated in any lab setting. The study will also answer questions around the evolutionary history of dogs and the history of the domestication of dogs. Light-driven micro-swimmers for responsive drug delivery: The biocompatible microswimmers and biological cells. Credit: Sridhar et al. In recent years, scientists have introduced a wide variety of robots of all shapes and sizes. Among these are microswimmers, carefully engineered microstructures that can move in water and other liquids. Microswimmers could have numerous interesting applications, for instance allowing doctors to deliver drugs to targeted regions inside the human body, or scientists to introduce specific substances in water-based environments. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) have recently developed new light-driven microswimmers that could be more suited for navigating biological systems, including body fluids. The new, light-driven microswimmers developed by Sridhar, Podjaski, and their colleagues are made of an organic-based material known as Carbon Nitride, which has photocatalytic properties. This means that when light is shone on the material, it is absorbed and produces electric charges that are used to drive chemical reactions which allow the devices to swim. These robots can move in all water-based environments which allows them to be used for many applications such as faster transport of medicine to targeted parts of the human body and water treatment of seas or lakes. Currently, the researchers are working to make the microswimmers responsive to infrared light so that they can function in a wider variety of environments. An anime convention in November was not an omicron superspreader event: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Image A large anime fan convention held in New York City last November was not an omicron super spreading event despite cases of the highly contagious variant linked to the gathering, researchers report in two studies in the Feb. 18 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In early December, the Minnesota public health department sounded the alarm about Anime NYC, a convention celebrating Japanese comics and cartoons that drew attendees from across the United States and 30 other countries. The state agency had identified that Peter McGinn, a Minnesota resident, had attended the event while infected with omicron. This was only the second omicron case identified in the United States and media reports labeled the 53,000-person convention as a potential superspreader event when several of McGinn’s friends, who had also attended the convention, tested positive. However, two parallel investigations into the convention failed to find any omicron transmission outside of this group. Meanwhile, the second group of researchers used data from convention organizers to search state and local health databases for positive coronavirus tests among event attendees. The search turned up 4,560 results, 119 (or 2.6 percent) of which were positive. The event did not spur widespread omicron transmission, the researchers found and the test positivity rate among attendees was similar to the rate in New York City as a whole in the week after the convention, about 3 percent. Sources: New Study Busts the 7 ‘Dog Years’ Myth and Explores Data That Could Help Humans Live Longer (goodnewsnetwork.org) Light-driven micro-swimmers for responsive drug delivery (techxplore.com) An anime convention in November was not an omicron superspreader event | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Feb 20, 2022
In Good News
Watch a Daughter Surprise Her Deer–Loving Dying Mom With Visit from Bambi: Lisa McDonald/Facebook Kindness Group Lisa McDonald and her sister had been caring for their mother in palliative care for some time, when they thought of a perfect way to bring a smile to her face. McDonald thought that since her mom loves Bambi, wears Bambi T-shirts, has Bambi statues, and thinks deer are the most beautiful animals, what better way to cheer her up than bringing a real-life Bambi into the care home? After McDonald came up with the idea, she and her sister found a nearby couple, Chris and Simone, that owned a mobile petting zoo near their home in Melbourne. They contacted them to see if they could come out with their deer fawn, which was coincidentally called Bambi and the petting zoo agreed. In response to this Lisa said “Mum deteriorated quickly today and Simone and Chris didn’t hesitate… they drove two and a half hours to bring Bambi to meet mum,” Lisa told the Daily Mail. “Out of pure love and kindness. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for my mum and my family.” First Time Someone With Cut Spinal Cord is Able to Walk Freely, Thanks to New Swiss Technology: After receiving a new medical implant that emits electrical signals into his spinal cord, Michel Roccati who was completely paralyzed in a motorcycle accident is now able to move with a walking aid. In various cases of paralysis, damage to the spinal column prevents signals from the brain from reaching the extremities, but like a Wi-Fi repeater, the implant carries the signals further down the body. The surgery to install the device is complex and requires fibers to be attached to individual nerve sections. It also contains powerful artificial intelligence software and emits signals like nervous system biology would. Controlled by software on a tablet, pre-set programs train the electrodes on the implant to command the trunk and legs to perform certain kinds of movements. It’s not a complete therapy yet, as the device is too complicated to be used in everyday settings, but the rehabilitations exercise the dormant leg muscles to improve health, mood and often restore little bits of movement capabilities. Professor Grégoire Courtine, who led the team that developed the technology, believes that if used in conjunction with stem cell regeneration, farther down the line it could bring patients back to something like normal life. It’s not a complete therapy yet, as the device is too complicated to be used in everyday settings, but the rehabilitations exercise the dormant leg muscles to improve health, mood and often restore little bits of movement capabilities. The Average American Has Made 5 New Friends Through Video Gaming in the Past Year: @JESHOOTS The average American has made five new online friendships through playing video games over the last 18 months, according to a new poll. The survey of 2,000 adults found that 39% has seen an increase in their online friend list since the pandemic began, with the average gamer becoming so close with their new pals that they’d invite four of them to their wedding. Commissioned by World of Warships and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also revealed that video games have helped six in 10 people learn more about the real world. Aside from friendships, the survey found that nearly half of gamers (46%) believe it is important that their “significant others’ play video games and 43% had dated someone they met through online gaming. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they cherished their video games because they helped them feel less lonely and connected them with other people. Just as many respondents said buying a new video game makes them feel like they’re allowing themselves to be happier. Most surprisingly, 75 percent of gamers have done some kind of real-world research on the games they play, and 57% consider themselves experts on the topics they research, thanks to video games. Sources: Watch a Daughter Surprise Her Deer–Loving Dying Mom With Visit from Bambi – Her Face Says It All (goodnewsnetwork.org) First Time Someone With Cut Spinal Cord is Able to Walk Freely, Thanks to New Swiss Technology (goodnewsnetwork.org) The Average American Has Made 5 New Friends Through Video Gaming in the Past Year (goodnewsnetwork.org)
Good News Summaries: (2/14-2/20) content media
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Connor Bolton
Feb 12, 2022
In Science and Tech
New Lightweight Material From MIT Scientists is Stronger Than Steel and as Light as Plastic: Polymer film courtesy of the researchers; Christine Daniloff, MIT Using a novel polymerization process, MIT chemical engineers have created a new material that is stronger than steel and as light as plastic, and can be easily manufactured in large quantities. Such a material could be used as a lightweight, durable coating for car parts or cell phones, or as a building material for bridges or other structures, says Michael Strano, the senior author of the new study. The new material is a two-dimensional polymer that self-assembles into sheets, unlike all other polymers, which form one-dimensional, spaghetti-like chains. Polymers, which include all plastics, consist of chains of building blocks called monomers. These chains grow by adding new molecules onto their ends. Once formed, polymers can be shaped into three-dimensional objects, such as water bottles, using injection molding. Not only this but this new polymer was found to be six times stronger than bulletproof glass and because of its seamless stacked structure, it does not allow any gasses to seep through. Climate hopes as scientists in the UK set fusion record: File picture showing Prince Charles visiting the control room at the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment near Oxford, where scientists say they have broken a record for nuclear fusion. Scientists in Britain announced Wednesday they had smashed a previous record for generating fusion energy, hailing it as a "milestone" on the path towards cheap, clean power and a cooler planet. A team at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility near Oxford in central England generated 59 megajoules of energy for five seconds during an experiment in December, more than doubling a 1997 record, the UK Atomic Energy Authority said. That is about the power needed to power 35,000 homes for the same period of time, five seconds, said JET's head of operations, Joe Milnes. The donut-shaped machine used for the experiments is called a tokamak, and the JET site is the largest operational one in the world. The machine itself superheats very small quantities of deuterium and tritium to create plasma. Then using magnets that spin around the device the materials are fused, creating a massive amount of energy. This process, unlike nuclear plants, is safe and Pound for pound (gram for gram) the device releases nearly four million times more energy than burning coal, oil, or gas. The quantum ‘boomerang’ effect has been seen for the first time: In the quantum boomerang effect, particles return to their starting positions, on average, after a nudge. A new experiment (shown) demonstrates a version of the effect using lithium atoms. Credit: Tony Mastres Physicists have confirmed a theoretically predicted phenomenon called the quantum boomerang effect. An experiment reveals that, after being given a nudge, particles in certain materials return to their starting points, on average, researchers report in a paper accepted in Physical Review X. Thee theory states that Particles can boomerang if they’re in a material that has lots of disorder such as when atoms are missing or misaligned, or other types of atoms sprinkled throughout. Electron localization which is caused by disorder such as this can cause materials to cease to conduct electricity and is also necessary for the boomerang effect to take place. Weld and colleagues demonstrated this effect using ultracold lithium atoms as stand-ins for the electrons. Instead of looking for atoms returning to their original position, the team studied the analogous situation for momentum, because that was relatively straightforward to create in the lab. The atoms were initially stationary, but after being given kicks from lasers to give them momenta, the atoms returned, on average, to their original standstill states, making a momentum boomerang. They also found that if the timing of the kickoff was changed while the effect was taking place, it stopped which further confirmed the theory. Sources: New Lightweight Material From MIT Scientists is Stronger Than Steel and as Light as Plastic (goodnewsnetwork.org) Climate hope as scientists in UK set fusion record (phys.org) The quantum ‘boomerang’ effect has been seen for the first time | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Feb 12, 2022
In Good News
80-Year-old Man Walks Through Blizzard to Rescue 3 Cars of People: This still from a video taken by Shannon St. Onge shows the winter conditions she got stranded in Monday near Pense, Sask.(Shannon St. Onge) A retiree rescuer hiked half a kilometer through a winter whiteout to reach a woman that had used social media to alert the local neighborhood that she was stuck and afraid for her safety. At 80-years old, Andre Bouvier Sr. is being hailed as a hero for rescuing not only the woman, but three other cars likewise stuck in an impassable blizzard which locals describe as a “Saskatchewan Screamer.” Shannon St. Onge, the woman who the retiree saved, was driving to the City of Regina to get a signature for a business check. It started to snow so she left the regular roads for a dirt one to get better traction, but she got lost. She first called 911 only to not have someone come for her for 14 hours. Stopping at a sign that gave her a location, she then went on Facebook groups as a last resort to signal those in the surrounding area for help. That’s when Andre Bouvier Sr., doing some at-home genealogy research, got a call about St. Onge’s situation, and bundling up while ignoring his wife’s concern for his safety, the 80-year-old went out to find her, on foot, since he couldn’t manage to start his tractor. On the way he found three other stranded vehicles, totaling seven people, and walking the quarter-mile there and back, he led the helpless cars one by one to his home. Lucky Cat Gets His Own ‘Mini SeaWorld’ After Owner Spends $2,400 Turning Fish Tank Into Underwater Peep Show: SWNS This curious cat is living the dream after his owner splashed out £1,800 ($2,400) transforming his fish tank into a ‘mini SeaWorld’. Jasper the Siamese cat used to spend hours entranced by Melissa Krieger’s exotic pets as he gazed through the saltwater enclosure from a dining room chair. When the 53-year-old’s fish supplier Jason Hering was cleaning the tank late last year, the pair devised a plan to build a unique design so the intrigued feline could feel he’s underwater too. Jason, who cleans Melissa’s multiple tanks every fortnight, spent 16 hours molding the new tank’s see-through acrylic panes and building its wooden base before fitting it in December. Jasper and the family’s other Siamese cat Willow were a little anxious giving their hatch a try at first, but last month Jasper braved the unknown. Now, Jasper is living the dream in his own underwater world where he can pretend to swim with the fishes. Simple Green LED Lights Save Sharks and Turtles from Accidental Bycatch in Fishing Nets: NOAA Fisheries Marine biologists have found that $8 green LEDs affixed to fishermen’s gill nets were enough to dissuade huge amounts of sea animals like turtles, rays, and sharks from falling prey to these nets. Originally tested by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on sea turtles off the coast of Hawai’i, they are proving even more effective on Humboldt squid and the elasmobranch family which contains sharks and rays. Gill nets which are used for mass fishing often catch more than the fish they are looking for and the catching of unsought marine life accounts for 40% of all net-caught animals around the world and has been a major threat to sharks, rays, and turtles. Overall, all unsought marine wildlife catches dropped heavily, and miraculously sought catch did not decrease significantly, saving wildlife and the salaries of fishermen. Sources: Lucky Cat Gets His Own 'Mini SeaWorld' After Owner Spends $2,400 Turning Fish Tank Into Underwater Peep Show – LOOK (goodnewsnetwork.org) 80-Year-old Man Walks Through Blizzard to Rescue 3 Cars of People (goodnewsnetwork.org) Simple Green LED Lights Save Sharks and Turtles from Accidental Bycatch in Fishing Nets (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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Connor Bolton
Feb 06, 2022
In Science and Tech
The heart of the Milky Way looks like contemporary art in this new radio image: The MeerKAT telescope array in South Africa provided this image of radio emissions from the center of the Milky Way. Stronger radio signals are shown in red and orange false color. Fainter zones are colored in grayscale, with darker shades indicating stronger emissions.- I. HEYWOOD/SARAO An image that looks like a trippy Eye of Sauron or splatter of modern art is a new detailed look at the Milky Way’s chaotic center, as seen in radio wavelengths. The image was taken with the MeerKAT radio telescope array in South Africa over three years and 200 hours of observing. It combines 20 separate images into a single mosaic, with the bright, star-dense galactic plane running horizontally. MeerKAT captured radio waves from several astronomical treasures, including supernovas, stellar nurseries, and the energetic region around the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center. One puffy supernova remnant can be seen in the bottom right of the image, and the supermassive black hole shows up as the bright orange “eye” in the center. Other intriguing features are the many wispy-looking radio filaments that slice mostly vertically through the image. These filaments, a handful of which were first spotted in the 1980s, are created by accelerated electrons gyrating in a magnetic field and creating a radio glow. But the filaments are hard to explain because there’s no obvious engine to accelerate the particles. However, studying the strands all together could help reveal the secrets behind them. Though the understanding of this phenomenon is in progress, this great discovery gives a true visual of the center of it all, the center of our galaxy. Biologists Identify First Animal That Uses the Complexity of Human Language: the Song Sparrow: Becky Matsubara, CC license The tweets of a little song sparrow and its ‘bird brain’ are a lot more complex and akin to human language than anyone realized. A new study finds that male sparrows deliberately shuffle and mix their song repertoire possibly as a way to keep it interesting for their female audience. The research done by Duke University’s Stephen Nowicki and team found that the male sparrows keep track of the songs they sing so that they can vary them the next time they try to attract a female. When wooing, song sparrows belt up to 12 different two-second songs, a repertoire that can take nearly 30 minutes to get through, since they repeat the same song several times before going on to the next track. In addition to varying the number of repeats, males also shuffle the order of their tunes each time they sing their discography. The sparrows were also found to go through all of their possible sounds before changing and shuffling their calls to the next pattern and is male sparrow was now found to have the longest auditory memory among birds at 30 minutes. Using radar to monitor burn victims and babies? It's now possible: Ph.D. candidate Ziqian Zhang and Professor Benjamin Eggleton optimizing the photonic system – the basis of the high-frequency radar. Credit: University of Sydney University of Sydney scientists have achieved a technology breakthrough with potentially life-saving applications, all using an improved version of radar. Traditionally, radar is associated with airport control towers or military fighter jets, but a new, highly sensitive radar developed at the University of Sydney takes this technology into the human range. Called advanced photonic radar, the ultra-high-resolution device is so sensitive it can detect an object's location, speed, and/or angle in millimeters as opposed to meters. This could enable usage in hospitals to monitor people's vital signs such as breathing and heart rate. In the case of breathing, the radar could continuously detect a person's chest rising and falling. Also, this new technology addresses privacy concerns over video surveillance since all vitals can be taken without taking video of a patient’s face. Sources: Biologists Identify First Animal That Uses the Complexity of Human Language: the Song Sparrow - LISTEN (goodnewsnetwork.org) Using radar to monitor burn victims and babies? It's now possible (phys.org) The Milky Way’s center looks like contemporary art in this image | Science News
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Connor Bolton
Feb 06, 2022
In Good News
Ginger Cat is Local Star for Stealing Hundreds of Toys and Presenting Them Sweetly to Neighbors: Photos: (Left) Ingrid Moyle, (right) Kay McCall A cat burglar and kleptocat, has stolen the hearts of Australians after becoming an internet celebrity for his relentless robbing of locals and their toys. Kay McCall and her husband were moving into a new apartment last year in Ferny Hills, near Brisbane, when they met a ginger cat who hopped over the fence looking for a head pat and chin scratches. It became an enjoyable daily encounter, but as the visits continued they began to notice an accumulation of toys in their yard. They caught the cat in the act and found out that he was stealing toys from other homes in the area. The pair then took to Facebook to post about the event where Ingrid Moyle, a resident in the neighborhood that fostered animals, offered to take care of the cat. Kylo now chooses a toy and drags it up the stairs to their bedroom, where he presents it to his new mother while she is presumably trying to sleep. He then runs off to get another one. Since the happy ending, the Pirate Kitty fan base has asserted that Kylo actually now owns Moyle, rather than the other way around and everyone looks forward to new posts about the cat’s mischief in the Ferny Hills home. With the Blink of An Eye, Even the Paralyzed Can Play Musical Instruments: EyeHarp / YouTube While many say the eyes are the windows of the soul, a Greek music professor sees them as windows of soul music… rock, electronica, or jazz. Zacharias Vamvakousis is the creative mastermind behind EyeHarp, and while he missed the opportunity to call it “EyeTunes,” his new digital musical instrument is allowing hundreds of quadriplegics to create music using only their eyes. The EyeHarp was created because one of his friends got into a motorcycle accident that left him heavily disabled. On the device, screen notes appear in a color-coded wheelset to pentatonic or heptatonic scales and are selected for sonification by the user’s gaze. The same note as the one previously selected will remain on the screen for fast power riffing, or another can be chosen. To help students learn, visual aid in the form of a circle will drag across the screen to direct the gaze at the next correct note but can be turned off so that disabled people can go through the rigors of practice that anyone trying to learn an instrument have to suffer. Over 650 people are currently using the EyeHarp and this new technology has given quadriplegics new hope and a chance to find purpose through music. Shoes Made From Coffee Grounds and Recycled Plastic Bottles Are Not Only Waterproof But Super Comfy: RENS Your morning coffee could be used to make a pair of sneakers, a Finnish startup reveals. Rens makes new kicks from old coffee, cutting back on waste in terms of space in landfills and methane emissions. 5,000 backers pledged over $500,000 to see the sneaker come to life, which uses up 21 cups of coffee and 6 recycled plastic bottles in each pair of shoes. Rens come in 9 different colors and are waterproof and super comfy. Furthermore, the shoes absorb odors, and they are designed to be slipped off and on easily. So far 250,000 water bottles and 750,000 cups of coffee have been turned into these shoes. The coffee grounds are combined in a low-heat environment with recycled plastic to create a coffee yarn to spin into the shoe's upper section, while recycled plastic accounts for the other components, and milky tree sap that biodegrades creates the outer sole. Not only are the shoes made out of recyclable materials, but even if they are thrown out, they will be able to break down quickly and return to the Earth. Sources: Ginger Cat is Local Star for Stealing Hundreds of Toys and Presenting Them Sweetly to Neighbors (goodnewsnetwork.org) With the Blink of An Eye, Even the Paralyzed Can Play Musical Instruments (goodnewsnetwork.org) Shoes Made From Coffee Grounds and Recycled Plastic Bottles Are Not Only Waterproof But Super Comfy (goodnewsnetwork.org)
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