Thursday, January 21

Science

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The Personnel of Space Force Will be Called Guardians
Science

The Personnel of Space Force Will be Called Guardians

In October of 2018, the Trump administration announced the creation of the U.S. Space Force (USSF), previously known as the U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). The decision was formalized on December 20th, 2019, with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 (NDAA 2020). Since then, the USSF has taken steps to establish all the particulars of an independent service branch. This included the creation of a logo and a motto (reminiscent of Starfleet and “Semper Supra!”), a headquarters, a recruiting video, and a training program. They even conducted their first joint mission with the USAF, sending the X-37B to space to test a number of technology demonstrators. And in honor of its one-year anniversary, the VP Pence announced that it has chosen what it will call USSF s...
50, 100 & 150 Years Ago: January 2021
Science

50, 100 & 150 Years Ago: January 2021

1971 Antievolution Evolves “In recent months the teaching of evolution has come under attack in a number of states. The revival of fundamentalism in biology takes a somewhat new form: the emphasis is on opposition to current theories of the origin of life and the diversity of species not by theologians but by scientists. The movement is led by the Creation Research Society, whose members have appeared before state boards of education and textbook committees in California, Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee. The society's credo says that it is ‘committed to full belief in the Biblical record of creation and early history’ and that its goal is ‘the realignment of science based on theistic creation concepts.’” Joy of Pulsars “The origin of the energy input to the Crab Nebula had been a puzzle ...
Some of Hayabusa2’s Samples are as Big as a Centimeter
Science

Some of Hayabusa2’s Samples are as Big as a Centimeter

A fireball hurtled across the sky on December 5th – the sample return capsule from the Hayabusa2 asteroid mission by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). The capsule landed in Woomera, a remote location in the Australian Outback. Earlier this month, the capsule’s sample containers revealed fine grain topsoil from asteroid 162173 Ryugu. A second sample container has since been opened that contains chunks up to an entire centimeter in size. Soil Samples returned by the Hyabusa2 Spacecraft -c JAXA Lighten the Load These larger fragments are thought to be pieces of bedrock from Ryugu. They were collected during Hayabusa2’s second touchdown in July 2019 to collect subsurface soil. Topsoil was collected on the first touchdown in February of 2019. Hayabusa2 was able to make multiple touchd...
A new mandate highlights costs, benefits of making all scientific articles free to read
Science

A new mandate highlights costs, benefits of making all scientific articles free to read

<!----> DAVIDE BONAZZI/SALZMAN ART By Jeffrey BrainardJan. 1, 2021 , 12:01 AM Science's guide to the new open-access landscape ▾ In 2018, a group of mostly European funders sent shock waves through the world of scientific publishing by proposing an unprecedented rule: The scientists they funded would be required to make journal articles developed with their support immediately free to read when published. The new requirement, which takes effect starting this month, seeks to upend decades of tr...
Honeybee Microbes Shape the Colony’s Social Behavior
Science

Honeybee Microbes Shape the Colony’s Social Behavior

As summer fades to fall, flowers wilt and forager honeybees scouring for nectar may find their sweet snack to be scarce. Typically, foragers continue to search around for some last drops of nectar before winter, but if a ravenous colony is desperate enough, it may resolve to a more dire tactic—to storm a foreign beehive and rob it of its honey. For the targeted hive, the attack can spell disaster—bees may be killed trying to defend the colony’s food, while the honey theft leaves the colony at risk of starvation over the winter. Colonies try to prevent these invasions by stationing guard bees outside the hive to monitor the thousands of bees entering and exiting the hive. Guard bees use the smell of other bees’ cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), compounds that form a waxy, water-resistant layer...
Tardigrades’ List of Superpowers Grows Ever Longer
Science

Tardigrades’ List of Superpowers Grows Ever Longer

Seven years ago, Sandeep Eswarappa flipped on the documentary television show Cosmos and was instantly engrossed in the episode’s topic: tardigrades. That the pinhead-size critters can endure extreme environments on Earth and in space was awesome enough. But it was the fact that these organisms, also called water bears, survived all five mass extinctions on Earth that caught Eswarappa’s attention, he tells The Scientist. “I decided then that when I came back to India to start my own lab, tardigrades would be one of my projects.”At the time he saw the Cosmos episode, Eswarappa was a postdoctoral fellow in cell biology at the Cleveland Clinic studying cancer and other pathologies associated with the abnormal growth of blood vessels. About a year later, in 2015, he was tapped to launch his ow...
Infographic: Light Triggers Photocage Opening, Apoptosis Inhibition
Science

Infographic: Light Triggers Photocage Opening, Apoptosis Inhibition

Steven Verhelst, a chemical biologist at KU Leuven in Belgium, and his PhD student Suravi Chakrabarty designed an inhibitor of caspases, enzymes essential in apoptosis, that incorporated a chemical cage called nitroindoline to block the negatively charged amino acid residue that would normally fit lock-and-key into the caspase enzyme. When irradiated with UV light, the nitroindoline pops off, releasing the enzyme to bind and destroy caspases and halt apoptosis.Fifteen minutes of UV irradiation removes the nitroindoline photocage from the caspase inhibitor, freeing the small molecule to prevent caspases from carrying out apoptosis of cultured human T cells.© Melanie LeeRead the full story.
A Dog’s View of Optical Illusions
Science

A Dog’s View of Optical Illusions

Sarah Byosiere was at a barbecue just outside Melbourne, Australia, when she came up with the idea of presenting optical illusions to dogs. It was 2015, and she was visiting La Trobe University shortly after finishing a master’s degree on canine cognition back home in the US. Chatting at the barbecue with a group of psychologists who were studying how the human brain perceives visual illusions, it struck her that the same approach could provide a window into how dogs see the world around them—and how their perception differs from our own. “We had this crazy question of: Could you give a dog an illusion, and would they be able to see it?” she recalls. What at first sounded like a gimmick soon morphed into a serious proposal. Psychologists use visual illusions all the time to study the short...
Plans for a Mars Sample Return Mission Have Moved to the Next Stage
Science

Plans for a Mars Sample Return Mission Have Moved to the Next Stage

This past summer, NASA’s Perseverance rover launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On February 18th, 2021, it will arrive on Mars and join in the search for evidence for past (and maybe even present) life. A particularly exciting aspect of this mission is the Mars Sample Return (MSR), a multi-mission effort that will send samples of Mars back to Earth for analysis. This aspect of the Perseverance mission will be assisted by a lander and orbiter developed by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). According to NASA, the MSR recently advanced to the next stage of development (Phase A). If all goes well, Perseverance will have a companion in the coming years that will take its samples and launch them to orbit, where they will be picked up and sent back to Earth. The ability to collect and...
The science stories likely to make headlines in 2021
Science

The science stories likely to make headlines in 2021

<!----> By Science News StaffDec. 31, 2020 , 2:00 PM As biomedical scientists continue to battle the deadly pandemic this year to help the world return to normalcy, researchers across the disciplines still aim to hit big milestones or launch new projects despite the challenges brought by COVID-19. European scientists will also have to contend with the aftermath of Brexit. Many U.S. scientists, in contrast, have a more hopeful political outlook, with some likely to play an invigorated role in tackling another global crisis, climate change, after President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to make it a top priority, is sworn in this month. In this section, Science’s news staff forecasts areas of research and...