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Can Energy Fluctuations Create Mass Out of Nothing?

2 July 2017 - 1:36pm
Yuen Yiu, Inside Sci
A vacuum is a space absolutely devoid of matter, at least according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. But if you talk to a physicist you may get a different answer. According to quantum physics, even vacuums are not completely empty. Constant fluctuations in energy can spontaneously create mass not just out of thin air, but out of absolutely nothing at all.
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Early Moon Might Have Had Metal Atmosphere

2 July 2017 - 1:36pm
Lisa Grossman, ScienceNews
The infant moon may have had a thick metal atmosphere, where supersonic winds raised waves in its magma ocean.That's the conclusion of a new simulation that calculates how heat from the young sun, the Earth and the moon's own hot surface could have vaporized lunar metals to give the moon an atmosphere as thick as Mars'.
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Experts Testify on Future of Deep Space Propulsion

2 July 2017 - 1:35pm
Nancy Atkinson, Seeker
There's a saying among space exploration enthusiasts that human missions to Mars have always been 20 years ahead of available technology. We've never quite had the significant research investment and development needed for propulsion, life support, and the ability to land large payloads to name just a few critical elements in order to establish human settlements on Mars.
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Neutron Stars Could Be Our GPS for Space Travel

2 July 2017 - 1:35pm
Wynn Ho, Conversation
NASA's Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, is an X-ray telescope launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early June 2017. Installed on the International Space Station, by mid-July it will commence its scientific work to study the exotic astrophysical objects known as neutron stars and examine whether they could be used as deep-space navigation beacons for future generations of spacecraft.
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The Origin of the First Light in the Universe

2 July 2017 - 1:35pm
Ethan Siegel, Starts with a Bang!
When we look out at the Universe today, highlighted against the vast, empty blackness of the sky are points of light: stars, galaxies, nebulae and more. Yet there was a time in the distant past before any of those things had formed, just after the Big Bang, where the Universe was still filled with light.
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Polymer "Worm" Wriggles in Response to Light

2 July 2017 - 1:35pm
Jamie Durrani, Chemistry World
A new polymer worm' that can make wave-like motions in response to light, can crawl and even carry objects. The researchers behind the material hope that it might one day be used in self-cleaning surfaces.The new liquid crystal polymer incorporates an azobenzene-derived dye which quickly changes from a cis to trans conformation when stimulated by ultraviolet radiation, and returns to its original state when in shadow.
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Colored Photons Could Boost Computing Speeds

2 July 2017 - 1:34pm
Bianca Datta, PBS NOVA
As the electronics industry continues to follow Moore's law and computer parts approach the size of an atom, physics starts to get funky.According to a new study released today, it could get even funkier than we thought.
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Hallucination Outbreak Showcases Shoddy Reporting

2 July 2017 - 1:34pm
R. Bartholomew, Skeptic
When a mysterious epidemic of hallucinations was reported to have broken out in Oregon in October of 2016, media outlets around the world portrayed the story as a baffling medical mystery. There's only one problem: it never happened. The case of the hallucinating Oregonians serves as a stark reminder of the threat posed by an uncritical media, and the need for skepticism and critical thinking.
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The Next Generation of Weapons Against Superbugs

2 July 2017 - 1:34pm
Dyani Lewis, Cosmos

At his North Adelaide practice, Peter-John Wormald has the unenviable job of unblocking the noses of people with chronic sinusitis. Many of his patients have spent years on antibiotics that have failed to budge their infection, providing the perfect breeding ground for resistant superbugs.
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What's the Best Age Gap in a Relationship?

2 July 2017 - 1:33pm
Soumaya Keynes, 1843
When a friend opts to date someone who is old enough to be their parent, a common response is to see if the decision passes the half their age plus seven test. The rule, whose origins remain mysterious, has been passed down through generations as a way of justifying or, more commonly, pouring scorn on other people's couplings.
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Are Humans Significant in the Cosmos?

30 June 2017 - 11:14pm
Nick Hughes, Aeon
Humanity occupies a very small place in an unfathomably vast Universe. Travelling at the speed of light 671 million miles per hour it would take us 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way. But we still wouldn't have gone very far. By recent estimates, the Milky Way is just one of 2 trillion galaxies in the observable Universe, and the region of space that they occupy spans at least 90 billion light-years. If you imagine Earth shrunk down to the size of a single grain of sand, and you imagine the size of that grain of sand relative to the entirety of the Sahara Desert, you are still...
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Examining California's Very Expensive 'Free' Healthcare

30 June 2017 - 9:11pm
Science 2.0
What will cost $400 billion, a giant leap over California's total health care budget for 2018 of $179.5 billion, yet is not mentioned by California lawmakers? California's free "single-payer" healthcare proposal.Clearly providing greater health care access to American poor people, at giant cost, has been a failure. A few million people not already eligible for Medicaid did get access, but they were primarily young people forced into plans they neither wanted nor needed in their early earning years. Those without private health care due to pre-existing conditions did get access, though many of...
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Robots Taking the Finance World by Storm

30 June 2017 - 9:11pm
Kendall & Alam, Conversation
The year is 2030. You're in a business school lecture hall, where just a handful of students are attending a finance class.The dismal turnout has nothing to with professorial style, school ranking or subject matter. Students simply aren't enrolled, because there are no jobs out there for finance majors.Today, finance, accounting, management and economics are among universities' most popular subjects worldwide, particularly at graduate level, due to high employability. But that's changing.
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Bee Pesticide Study Yields Mixed Results

30 June 2017 - 9:11pm
Erik Stokstad, Science Mag
Europe's largest field trial of controversial insecticides called neonicotinoids has delivered a split verdict on the danger they pose to bees. The 2.8 million, 2-year-long study of 33 sites in the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Germany, described this week in Science, provides the first real-world demonstration that agricultural use of these common pesticides can hurt both domesticated honey bees and wild bees. But on German farms, the honey bees did just fine, suggesting that in some situations colonies can weather the toxicity.
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Pressure-Cooked Food Waste Produces Biofuel

30 June 2017 - 9:11pm
Prachi Patel, Anthropocene
Around one-third of the food produced around the world today is wasted. That includes everything from produce that rots in trucks during transit to meat that doesn't sell in stores to leftovers at home and in restaurants. This wasted food is an untapped energy resource.Engineers at Cornell University have now come up with a fast, effective way to convert foodstuff into fuel. Their two-step process, detailed in the journal Bioresource Technology, extracts nearly all the energy present in trashed food.
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Nuclear Fission May Power Mars Colony

30 June 2017 - 9:11pm
Irene Klotz, Space.com
As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet's surface for fuel production, habitats and other equipment. One option: small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power. NASA's technology development branch has been funding a project called Kilopower for three years, with the aim of demonstrating the system at the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. Testing is due to start in September...
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Antipsychotic Meds May Help New Brain Cells Grow

30 June 2017 - 9:11pm
Alex Berezow, ACSH
Depression is something of a black box. Its underlying causes aren't completely understood, nor why particular medications work for some people but not others. Even worse, treatments are not fully successful in up to 60% of patients. Learning more about the molecular details of mental illness will go a long way toward designing better drugs.With these ends in mind, a team of Portuguese researchers examined the effects of two antipsychotic medications (which can also be used to treat major depression) on the behavior and physiology of rats. Their results are published in Translational...
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The Oldest Fossil Insect Might Lose Its Title

3 June 2017 - 1:15pm
Ross Pomeroy, RealClearScience
Have you ever considered the life of a paleoentomologist? Studying fossil insects is a great gig, but it does present its share of difficulties.Foremost among those difficulties: finding ancient insects is not nearly as easy as unearthing dinosaurs. Their small size and lack of hard bone make them ill suited to preservation. Dating back 125 million years, insects can be found encased in amber, but before that, there are far fewer to be found.
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Perfectly Preserved Mummies Yield Medical Secrets

3 June 2017 - 12:06am
N. St. Fleur, NY Times
Hundreds of skeletons have lain scattered around a crypt beneath a church in Vilnius, Lithuania, for centuries. But 23 of these remains are unlike the rest: Flesh wraps their bones, clothes cover their skin, and organs still fill their insides.They are mummies, and since they were recovered about five years ago, scientists have investigated their secrets, seeking insights into the lives of people in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and the diseases they suffered.
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Senate Explores Threat of EMP Weapons

3 June 2017 - 12:05am
David Kramer, Physics Today
Every couple of years a congressional committee takes a look at the threat to the US posed by both naturally occurring geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) and attacks with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a nuclear weapon. On 4 May the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources took its turn, hearing from witnesses who alternately sought to scare and reassure the lawmakers.
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