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News in Science

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  • #61
    Re: News in Science

    Scientists Discover a Bunch of New Potentially Habitable Planets



    19:15 02.05.2016(updated 19:24 02.05.2016)

    Astronomers have discovered three Earth-like planets in the "habitable zone" of a star, suggesting that the celestial trio might have liquid water.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Three exoplanets resembling Earth have been discovered orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star dubbed TRAPPIST-1, an international group of astronomers said in the interdisciplinary scientific journal Nature on Monday.

    ​"We report observations of three short-period Earth-sized planets transiting an ultra-cool dwarf star only 12 parsecs away," the report stated.

    The discovered planets, located about 40 light years away, reportedly have features similar to Earth, which means they could be habitable.

    ​Scientists sometimes call these objects 'Goldilocks' planets because they're just the right distance from their host star to make life on them possible.

    The three planets spotted in constellation Aquarius are also the first to be found orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, which was hard to find because it is small and faint.

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    Hayastan or Bust.


    • #62
      Re: News in Science

      NEW LIGHT A possible new particle shows up in proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider that produce two photons, as in an event (illustrated here) seen by the CMS detector.


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      Physicists may soon know if a potential new subatomic particle is something beyond their wildest dreams — or if it exists at all.

      Hints of the new particle emerged last December at the Large Hadron Collider. Theorists have churned out hundreds of papers attempting to explain the existence of the particle —assuming it’s not a statistical fluke. Scientists are now beginning to converge on the most likely explanations.

      “If this thing is true, it’s huge. It’s very different than what the last 30 years of particle physics looked like,” says theoretical physicist David Kaplan of Johns Hopkins University.

      The speculation was triggered by a subtle wiggle in data from two experiments, ATLAS and CMS, at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (SN: 1/9/16, p. 7). The bump suggests a new particle that decays into two photons, but what that particle might be is unclear — its properties don’t line up with scientists’ expectations.

      “I’m not aware of anybody who’d predicted the existence of such a particle,” says John Ellis of King’s College London. “There’s a dish on the table that nobody can remember ordering.”

      More than 300 papers online at take a shot at explaining the potential particle’s origins, and on April 12, Physical Review Letters published four papers, selected to give a sense of the kinds of theories that could explain the observations.

      One of the most plausible explanations, scientists say, is that the particle is a composite, made up of smaller constituents, much like protons and neutrons are made of quarks. The strong nuclear force binds quarks in these nucleons; the new particle would be composed of quarklike particles held together by a new type of strong force. “I think that that’s the model that works the best with the data,” says theoretical physicist Kathryn Zurek of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

      The particle could also be similar to the Higgs boson — which was discovered at the LHC in 2012 (SN: 7/28/12, p. 5) — but with a mass six times as large. Still other theories propose that the possible new particle is a graviton, which is believed to transmit the force of gravity. The biggest constraint on devising a theory, or model, to explain the new particle’s origins is that it has so far revealed itself in only one type of decay, where it produces two photons. If it decays to two photons, says theoretical physicist Matthew Buckley of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., “you might expect that it also goes to other things, and the fact that we don’t see that makes it difficult for many models to be right.”

      Additionally puzzling is that the particle doesn’t seem to easily solve any of the major mysteries of particle physics. It doesn’t provide an obvious explanation for dark matter, an unidentified substance that makes up more than 80 percent of the matter in the universe. And it doesn’t easily explain a persistent puzzle known as the hierarchy problem, which is related to the mass of the Higgs. According to theory, physicists would naively expect the Higgs to have an enormously large mass, but for unknown reasons, it is found at a much lower scale.

      Many physicists had pinned their hopes for solving these problems on a theoretical concept called supersymmetry, which proposes that each known particle has a heavier partner. But although theorists have concocted supersymmetric explanations for the particle, it doesn’t seem to fit easily into that box, either. “This thing doesn’t smell like supersymmetry,” says Maria Spiropulu of Caltech, an experimental particle physicist with CMS.

      The lack of simple explanations makes some physicists more skeptical that the particle really exists. Instead, they think it’s more likely just a blip that will disappear with more data. “If it had been something that was confidently expected in some well-motivated scenario like supersymmetry, then I think people would be a lot more confident about its reality,” says Ellis.

      The LHC experiments are currently gearing up to resume taking data after a few months on hiatus. So scientists expect answers by the summer, when more data could provide additional details — or make the hints of a new particle evaporate.

      Updated analyses presented by ATLAS and CMS in March strengthened the case slightly, making physicists more optimistic that the hints will hold up with more data. Notably, says Spiropulu, the first signs of the long-sought Higgs boson showed up in a similar fashion before they were confirmed. So, she says, theoretical physicists have a license to be excited. “It is expected that they will run amok.”


      R. Garisto. Editorial: Theorists React to the CERN 750 GeV Diphoton Data. Physical Review Letters. Vol. 116, April 15, 2016, p. 150001. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.150001.

      M. Delmastro. Diphoton searches in ATLAS, 51st Rencontres de Moriond EW 2016, La Thuile, Italy, March 17, 2016.

      P. Musella. Diphoton Searches in CMS, 51st Rencontres de Moriond EW 2016, La Thuile, Italy, March 17, 2016.

      Further Reading

      A. Grant. LHC restart provides tantalizing hints of a possible new particle. Science News. Vol. 189, January 9, 2016, p. 7.

      T. Siegfried. Higgs mass isn't natural, but maybe it shouldn't be. Science News Online, October 22, 2013.
      Hayastan or Bust.


      • #63
        Re: News in Science

        US03:24 07.12.2016(updated 03:34 07.12.2016) Get short URL125230NASA’s Saturn-orbiting spacecraft Cassini passed through the plane of Saturn’s outer ring this week, flying approximately 57,000 miles above the ringed-planet’s clouds.In making a few minor adjustments, NASA’s team is confident that the data it will collect in this latest phase of its mission will help to reach agency goals. The upcoming dives are expected to produce the best views of Saturn’s outer rings to date, as well as close images of a nearby moon of the gas giant.

        "We’re in excellent shape to make the most of this new phase of the mission," Earl Maize, Cassini’s lead project manager, said in a statement. The small adjustments described by NASA include performing a short engine burn of the spacecraft’s main engine and closing the engine cover to form a protective canopy prior to transiting the the rocky ring plane. Cassini has made several groundbreaking discoveries, including finding a global ocean on the moon Enceladus, and identifying what are believed to be liquid methane seas on the moon Titan. © Flickr/ Kevin GillCassini Spacecraft Embarks on Ring-Skimming Mission of Saturn Cassini will make about 20 outer ring-grazing dives between November 30, 2016, and April 22, 2017, before plunging down between the planet and its inner-most rings on April 26, 2017, according to NASA. Each of the 20 plunges will last about a week. During the passes, Cassini’s instruments and imaging devices will sample the particles that form Saturn’s famous rings. The mission will conclude September 15, 2017, when the spacecraft will be directed into the atmosphere of the gas giant, continuing to relay data back to NASA "until its signal is lost." ...30

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        Hayastan or Bust.


        • #64
          Re: News in Science

          Russian scientists were able to successfully test-fire the nation’s very own railgun – a weapon that relies on electromagnetic forces rather than explosive propellant to launch projectiles at incredibly high speed.During the test, conducted by scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Joint Institute for High Temperatures, the railgun fired a 15-gram plastic pellet which hit a solid aluminum target at a speed of approximately 3 kilometers per second, leaving a huge dent at the point of impact.

          It should be noted that this is far from the first test of this type of weapon in Russia, as the first test-fire of a Russian railgun was conducted in July. Railguns employ electromagnetic conductors instead of more conventional propellant like gunpowder or explosives to launch projectiles at incredibly high speed and inflicting major damage on impact. Scientists believe that the railgun can become not just a powerful weapon for the Russian military but also can theoretically be used to shoot down dangerous space objects on a collision course with Earth.

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          Hayastan or Bust.


          • #65
            Re: News in Science

            Latest on Cassini
            NASA's Cassini spacecraft is beaming back spectacular data during dives between Saturn's rings and the planet's cloud tops
            Hayastan or Bust.


            • #66


              June 29 2017

              Genetic evidence from the South Caucasus region shows surprising long-term stability

              June 29, 2017

              Genetic evidence from the South Caucasus region shows surprising long-term stability
              Human remains, excavated in Armenia, that were used for ancient DNA analyses. The remains are from an Early Iron Age (9th century BC) individual excavated in Kapan, burial 6, skeleton 1. Credit: Pavel AvetisyanThe South Caucasus—home to the countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—geographically links Europe and the Near East. The area has served for millennia as a major crossroads for human migration, with strong archaeological evidence for big cultural shifts over time. And yet, surprisingly, ancient mitochondrial DNA evidence reported in Current Biologyon June 29 finds no evidence of any upheaval over the last 8,000 years.
              Mitochondria are passed from mothers to their children. Therefore, the study of mitochondrial genomes enables scientists to trace the unique history of females over time.
              "We analyzed many ancient and modern mitochondrial genomes in parts of the South Caucasus and found genetic continuity for at least 8,000 years," said Ashot Margaryan and Morten E. Allentoft from Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. "In other words, we could not detect any changes to the female gene pool over this very long time frame. This is highly interesting because this region has experienced multiple cultural shifts over the same time period, but these changes do not appear to have had a genetic impact—at least not on the female population."
              The researchers were interested to study this part of the world because of its position as a cultural crossroads since ancient times. It's also known as an important area for the potential origin and spread of Indo-European languages.
              To shed light on the maternal genetic history of the region, the researchers analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes of 52 ancient skeletons from present-day Armenia and Artsakh, an unrecognized republic bordering Armenia and Azerbaijan. Those specimens span 7,800 years of history. Allentoft's team combined this new data with 206 mitochondrial genomes of modern Armenians and previously published data representing more than 480 individuals from seven neighboring populations.
              Genetic evidence from the South Caucasus region shows surprising long-term stability
              Human remains, excavated in Armenia, that were used for ancient DNA analyses. The remains are of a Middle Bronze Age (17th century BC) individual excavated in Karashamb, burial 462. Credit: Pavel AvetisyanTheir analyses suggest that the population size in the region rapidly increased after the last glacial maximum, about 18,000 years ago. The researchers also used several sophisticated analyses to test five different demographic scenarios that could explain the formation of the modern Armenian gene pool. Despite well-documented cultural shifts in the South Caucasus across the time period in question, their results strongly favor genetic continuity in the maternal gene pool, the researchers report.
              The findings imply that the female population in at least some parts of the South Caucasus has been highly stable through many cultural shifts that have occurred over thousands of years. They also suggest that documented migrations into this region during the last 2,000 to 3,000 years have had little genetic impact on the local female population.
              Margaryan says the findings suggest either that cultural shifts occurred primarily through the exchange of ideas or that it was primarily men who moved into new territories, bringing new cultural ideas along with them.
              The researchers say the next step is to explore these questions in whole-genome data to see if it tells the same story. They also hope to expand the study by including both modern and ancient samples from neighboring countries, which could involve collaborations with researchers in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
              More information: Current Biology, Margaryan and Derenko et al.: "Eight Millennia of Matrilineal Genetic Continuity in the South Caucasus" , DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.087

              Hayastan or Bust.


              • #67
                A Step Towards Eternal Life: Scientists Find a Way to Reverse Ageing

                © Photo: Pixabay
                US 14:05 03.08.2017(updated 15:38 03.08.2017) Get short URL

                Scientists have found a way to stop ageing in human cells. The breakthrough was made by a team from Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. John Cooke, the head of the Institute’s department of cardiovascular sciences, and the lead author of the research.

                Decoding the DNA: Scientists See and Touch Force That Gives Us Life for the First Time (PHOTOS)

                In the research, published in the July 31 issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the scientists revealed the results of their study of the cells of children with a fatal genetic disease called progeria, which causes rapid ageing.
                They specifically looked at the telomeres – structures located at the end of chromosomes, which shorten with age. The team gave the cells ribonucleic acid to make a protein that lengthened the telomere.
                The experiment showed that extending the telomeres effectively halted ageing in the isolated sample cells.
                “There are a lot of things that cause us to age, and one of these is the DNA. The tip of the chromosome, called telomere, is the ‘time keeper’ of the cell. As cells divide or are subjected to physical or emotional stress, the telomeres can become shorter. At some point, the chromosome can’t function any longer,” Dr. Cooke said.
                When asked about the symptoms of this “ageing” disease in children and how widespread it is, he said that affected children have accelerated aging. At the age of 13, 14 or 15 they have the bodies of 80-year-olds.
                “They have all the signs of ageing: their bodies are weaker, their bones get weaker, their muscles get weaker, their skin gets aged. Their blood vessels and arteries are also ageing fast, causing heart attacks and strokes,” John Cooke noted.

                © AP Photo/ Wong Maye-E, File
                Breakthrough: Experimental New Treatment Kills Cancer Cells, Skips Healthy Ones

                “We thought that if we could stem the telomeres we could reverse ageing or slow it,” he added.
                However, when describing the way he and his team managed to make the cells of progeria patients return to youth, John Cooke said that they had collected them from a progeria research foundation and later found out that their DNA was that of a 70-year-old.
                “We treated the cells with ribonucleic acid and managed to extend the telomeres in the cells and it really transformed the cells, which were now able to divide and multiply. Their function was really improved by this treatment,” Dr. Cooke he noted.
                He added that the method was also applicable to all other age-related problems.

                Hayastan or Bust.


                • #68

                  New Wonder Drug Brings Major Breakthrough in Battle Against Heart Disease

                  CC0 / Pixabay

                  Life 16:55 29.08.2017(updated 16:57 29.08.2017) Get short URL

                  It has been hailed as one of the largest medical breakthroughs in the battle against Britain's biggest killer - heart disease. Scientists in the US have discovered heart attack survivors given anti-inflammatory injections are likely to have fewer future episodes as well as slow the progression of cancer.

                  Researchers claim a new wonder drug called canakinumab could potentially help prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths from cancer. They revealed this latest discovery offered "a new era of therapeutics" and will prove the biggest breakthrough since statins.

                  CC0 / Pixabay
                  Thousands May Have Died Due to Bogus Statin Risks, Says Big Pharma Funded Study

                  Furthermore it brings fresh hope to nearly 200,000 Britons who suffer a heart attack every year, as it works in an entirely different way to conventional treatment.
                  Experts from Harvard Medical School in Boston insist the findings have "far-reaching" implications and have called for urgent trials to further examine the impact of the medication on cancer.
                  Announcing the dramatic development at a conference in Barcelona, Spain, Professor Paul Ridker revealed it opens up a "third front" in the war on heart disease.
                  "These findings represent the end game of more than two decades of research, stemming from a critical observation. Half of heart attacks occur in people who do not have high cholesterol. For the first time, we've been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk," Professor Ridker said, speaking at the world's biggest gathering of heart experts.
                  The landmark study — which took four years — involved 10,000 heart attack survivors being given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab.

                  ​It found that typically, nearly a quarter of heart attack survivors had fewer attacks whereas previously many ran the risk of a second attack.
                  It also had an impact on the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, which fell by more than 30 percent.
                  Similarly, cancer deaths also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.
                  "In my lifetime, I've gotten to see three broad eras of preventative cardiology. In the first, we recognized the importance of diet, exercise and smoking cessation. In the second, we saw the tremendous value of lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. Now, we're cracking the door open on the third era. This is very exciting," Professor Ridker admitted.
                  There are some downsides to the treatment, however, as researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1000 treated.
                  This was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all types of cancer, in particular, lung.
                  Another concern is the cost involved in administering the new drug is currently US$52,000 a year — although it is hoped this figure will drop substantially in time as a new class of heart drugs are developed as a result of these findings.
                  News of the breakthrough has been warmly welcomed by heart specialists.
                  Dr. Derek Connolly, consultant interventional cardiologist at Birmingham City Hospital, said: "The drug is likely to be given to patients alongside statins — in a 'twin attack' against cholesterol and inflammation. You need lots of bricks to build a wall — this is another brick in the wall."

                  ​Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said he was optimistic the trial would open the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

                  ​"Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalized due to heart attacks every year in the UK. Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives," Professor Pearson said.
                  "But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.
                  "These exciting and long awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and (lowering it) could help save lives," Professor Pearson concluded.

                  Hayastan or Bust.