Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (July 2020)

Science news and science current events archive July, 2020.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from July 2020

Crystal structure discovered almost 200 years ago could hold key to solar cell revolution
Solar energy researchers are shining their scientific spotlight on materials with a crystal structure discovered nearly two centuries ago.

Electrically focus-tuneable ultrathin lens for high-resolution square subpixels
In accordance to rising demand of high-resolution, ultrathin lens device for display panels, the scientists from Korea, UK, and USA have invented an electrically focus-tunable, graphene-based ultrathin subpixel square lens device that demonstrates excellent focusing performance. Such subpixel design is uniquely developed to control the optical path of subpixels of display in visible wavelength, which is therefore easily applicable to high-resolution slim displays as an add-on feature. Ultimately, this presents new directionality to autostereoscopic display.

Milk lipids follow the evolution of mammals
Skoltech scientists conducted a study of milk lipids and described the unique features of human breast milk as compared to bovids, pigs, and closely related primates. Their findings could be indicative of co-evolution of milk composition and the specific needs of the developing organism

Does early access to pension funds improve health?
In a recent study from Singapore, early access to pension wealth was associated with improved health status. The findings are published in Economic Inquiry.

Soil studies can be helpful for border control
Underground tunnels have been used by warriors and smugglers for thousands of years to infiltrate battlegrounds and cross borders. A new analysis published in the Open Journal of Soil Science presents a series of medieval and modern case studies to identify the most restrictive and ideal soil and geologic conditions for tunneling.

NASA analyzes Tropical Cyclone Damien's water vapor concentration
When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Cristina in the Eastern Pacific Ocean on July 8, it gathered water vapor data that provided information about the intensity of the storm.

Blood-based biomarker can detect, predict severity of traumatic brain injury
A study from the National Institutes of Health confirms that neurofilament light chain as a blood biomarker can detect brain injury and predict recovery in multiple groups, including professional hockey players with acute or chronic concussions and clinic-based patients with mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury.

Care for cats? So did people along the Silk Road more than 1,000 years ago
Common domestic cats, as we know them today, might have accompanied Kazakh pastoralists as pets more than 1,000 years ago. This is indicated by new analyses done on an almost complete cat skeleton found during an excavation along the former Silk Road in southern Kazakhstan. An international research team has reconstructed the cat's life, revealing astonishing insights into the relationship between humans and pets at the time. The study will appear in 'Scientific Reports'.

Global COVID-19 registry finds strokes associated with COVID-19 are more severe, have worse outcomes and higher mortality
Patients with COVID-19 who have an acute ischemic stroke (AIS) experience more severe strokes, have worse functional outcomes and are more likely to die of stroke than AIS patients who do not have COVID-19. The wide range of complications associated with COVID-19 likely explain the worse outcomes.

Single-cell RNA sequencing outlines the immune landscape of severe COVID-19
A new single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of more than 59,000 cells from three different patient cohorts provides a detailed look at patients' immune responses to severe cases of COVID-19.

Partnerships with health systems can provide support to nursing homes during pandemic
Meaningful partnerships between hospitals and nursing facilities can support better quality of care for people who live in the facilities. 'Closer relationships can help reduce hospital readmissions and improve safety of transitions of care, which can have a detrimental impact on people living in long-term care facilities,' said JAGS editorial co-author Kathleen Unroe, M.D., MHA of the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine.

Turmeric could have antiviral properties
Curcumin, a natural compound found in the spice turmeric, could help eliminate certain viruses, research has found. A study published in the Journal of General Virology showed that curcumin can prevent Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) - an alpha-group coronavirus that infects pigs - from infecting cells. At higher doses, the compound was also found to kill virus particles.

Bouncing bubbles shake up emulsion studies
Collisions of tiny air bubbles with water surfaces can reveal fundamental characteristics of foamy mixtures.

Mutant zebrafish reveals a turning point in spine's evolution
A chance mutation that led to spinal defects in a zebrafish has opened a little window into our own fishy past. The single-letter mutation showed that both the ancient and modern recipes for spine development are still to be found in the fish genome.

Scientists present pre- and postfusion cryo-em structures of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
Scientists report two new cryo-EM structures representing the pre- and postfusion conformations of the full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein, an essential viral component responsible for host cell entry and the spread of infection.

Mammal cells could struggle to fight space germs
The immune systems of mammals - including humans - might struggle to detect and respond to germs from other planets, new research suggests.

Potential therapeutic effects of dipyridamole in the severely ill patients with COVID-19
Effective antivirals with safe clinical profile are urgently needed to improve the overall COVID-19 prognosis. In an analysis of a randomly collected cohort of 124 patients with COVID-19, the authors found that hypercoagulability as indicated by elevated concentrations of D-dimers was associated with disease severity. By virtual screening of a U.S. FDA approved drug library, the authors identified an anticoagulation agent dipyridamole (DIP) in silico, which suppressed SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro.

Safe work protocols can increase the likelihood the business will fail
There are conflicting predictions on the relationship between worker safety and organization survival. New research in the INFORMS journal Management Science finds organizations that provide a safe workplace have a significantly lower chance of survival because it costs to be safe.

A practicable and reliable therapeutic strategy to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection
In a new study in Cell Discovery, Chen-Yu Zhang's group at Nanjing University and two other groups from Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Second Hospital of Nanjing present a novel finding that absorbed miRNA MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction (HD) can directly target SARS-CoV-2 genes and inhibit viral replication. Drinking of HD accelerate the negative conversion of COVID-19 patients.

Smaller habitats worse than expected for biodiversity
Biodiversity's ongoing global decline has prompted policies to protect and restore habitats to minimize animal and plant extinctions. However, biodiversity forecasts used to inform these policies are usually based on assumptions of a simple theoretical model describing how the number of species changes with the amount of habitat. A new study published in the journal Nature shows that the application of this theoretical model underestimates how many species go locally extinct when habitats are lost.

Investigational breast cancer vaccine plus immune therapy work well in tandem
A vaccine for HER2-positive breast cancers that is being tested in a clinical trial at Duke Cancer Institute is part of an effective, two-drug strategy for enlisting the immune system to fight tumors, according to a Duke-led study in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Copper-catalyzed enantioselective trifluoromethylation of benzylic radicals developed
Scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have developed the first copper-catalyzed enantioselective trifluoromethylation of benzylic radicals via a copper-catalyzed radical relay strategy.

Apgar score effective in assessing health of preterm infants
The vitality of preterm infants should be assessed with an Apgar score, a tool used to measure the health of newborns immediately after birth. That is the conclusion by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden who in a large observational study examined the value of Apgar scores for preterm infants. The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A tiny ancient relative of dinosaurs and pterosaurs discovered
Dinosaurs and pterosaurs may be known for their remarkable size, but a newly described species that lived around 237 million years ago suggests that they originated from extremely small ancestors. The fossil reptile, named Kongonaphon kely, or ''tiny bug slayer,'' would have stood just 10 centimeters tall. The study may help explain the origins of flight in pterosaurs, the presence of ''fuzz'' on both pterosaurs and dinosaurs, and other questions about these charismatic animals.

Artificial tones in perception experiments could be missing the mark, research
Researchers at McMaster University who study how the brain processes sound have discovered the common practice of using artificial tones in perception experiments could mean scientists are overlooking important and interesting discoveries in the field of brain research.

Circular RNA makes fruit flies live longer
The molecule influences the insulin signalling pathway and thus prolongs life

Cooling mechanism increases solar energy harvesting for self-powered outdoor sensors
Thermoelectric devices, which use the temperature difference between the top and bottom of the device to generate power, offer some promise for harnessing naturally occurring energy. In Applied Physics Letters, authors tested one made up of a wavelength-selective emitter that constantly cools the device during the day using radiative cooling. As a result, the top of the device is cooler than the bottom, causing a temperature difference that creates constant voltage through day and night.

5G networks have few health impacts, Oregon State study using zebrafish model finds
Findings from an Oregon State University study into the effects of radiofrequency radiation generated by the wireless technology that will soon be the standard for cell phones suggest few health impacts.

Improved cochlear implant device allows safe MRI in children without discomfort
A study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago found that children with a MED-EL Synchrony cochlear implant device can undergo MRI safely, with no discomfort and reduced need for sedation or anesthesia. Findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Laryngoscope.

Scientists may have found one path to a longer life
Mifepristone appears to extend lifespan in evolutionarily divergent species Drosophila and C. elegans in ways that suggest it may do so in humans, as well.

Mothers' paid work suffers during pandemic, study finds
New research from Washington University in St. Louis finds early evidence that the pandemic has exacerbated -- not improved -- the gender gap in work hours, which could have enduring consequences for working mothers.

Graphene-Adsorbate van der Waals bonding memory inspires 'smart' graphene sensors
Electric field modulation of the graphene-adsorbate interaction induces unique van der Waals (vdW) bonding which were previously assumed to be randomized by thermal energy after the electric field is turned off. We show that the vdW bonding lasts for hours after turning-off the electric field, exhibiting a charge-transfer and carrier scattering memory useful for 'beyond sensing' applications in molecular identification, memory devices and conformational switches.

Will telehealth services become the norm following COVID-19 pandemic?
In JAMA Oncology, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center's Trevor Royce, MD, MS, MPH, and his coauthors address whether the routine use of telehealth for patients with cancer could have long-lasting and unforeseen effects on the provision and quality of care.

Pine beetles successful no matter how far they roam -- with devastating effects
Whether they travel only a few metres or tens of kilometres to a new host tree, female pine beetles use different strategies to find success--with major negative consequences for pine trees, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists.

N-doped carbon encapsulated transition metal catalysts to optimize performance of zinc-air batteries
In a report published in NANO, a team of researchers from Sichuan University of Science and Engineering, China have developed N-doped carbon encapsulated transition metal catalysts for oxygen reduction reactions (ORR) and oxygen evolution reactions (OER) to optimize performance of zinc-air batteries.

How governments resist World Heritage 'in Danger' listings
Some national governments repeatedly resist the placement of 41 UNESCO World Heritage sites on the World Heritage in Danger list. This resistance is despite the sites being just as threatened, or more threatened, than those already on the in Danger list.

Recycling Japanese liquor leftovers as animal feed produces happier pigs and tastier pork
Tastier pork comes from pigs that eat the barley left over after making the Japanese liquor shochu. A team of professional brewers and academic farmers state that nutrients in the leftover fermented barley may reduce the animals' stress, resulting in better tasting sirloin and fillets. Feeding distillation leftovers to farm animals can improve the animals' quality of life, lower farmers' and brewers' costs, appeal to discerning foodies, and benefit the environment by reducing food waste.

How does ridesourcing substitute for public transit network?
Researchers at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used ridesourcing data from Chengdu, China to investigate the relationship between ridesourcing and public transit. The study found that one-third of ridesourcing substitutes public transit, with the substitution effect more common in city-centers.

Skin cancer treatments could be used to treat other forms of the disease
The creation of a silica nanocapsule could allow treatments that use light to destroy cancerous or precancerous cells in the skin to also be used to treat other types of cancer. Such are the findings of a study by INRS (Institut national de la recherche scientifique) professors Fiorenzo Vetrone and Federico Rosei, in collaboration with an international research team.

Fear of COVID-2019: Emerging cardiac risk
Fear of COVID-19 is an issue stopping patients from accessing needed cardiac care and methods to ameliorate negative outcomes.

CIC nanoGUNE reaches new depths in infrared nanospectroscopy
Researchers from the Nanooptics Group at CIC nanoGUNE (San Sebastian) demonstrate that nanoscale infrared imaging - which is established as a surface-sensitive technique - can be employed for chemical nanoidentification of materials that are located up to 100 nm below the surface.

Dual role discovered for molecule involved in autoimmune eye disease
The inflammatory molecule interleukin-17A (IL-17A) triggers immune cells that in turn reduce IL-17A's pro-inflammatory activity, according to a study by National Eye Institute (NEI) researchers.

Brazilian researchers develop an optical fiber made of gel derived from marine algae
Edible, biocompatible and biodegradable, these fibers have potential for various medical applications. The results are described in the journal Scientific Reports.

Soft robot actuators heal themselves
Repeated activity wears on soft robotic actuators, but these machine's moving parts need to be reliable and easily fixed. Now a team of researchers has a biosynthetic polymer, patterned after squid ring teeth, that is self-healing and biodegradable, creating a material not only good for actuators, but also for hazmat suits and other applications where tiny holes could cause a danger.

Study seeks to explain decline in hip fracture rates
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine today, researchers showed how analysis of data from the multigenerational Framingham Osteoporosis Study may in part explain why the incidence of hip fracture in the US has declined during the last two decades.

New scenario for the India-Asia collision dynamics
The India-Asia collision is an outstanding smoking gun in the study of continental collision dynamics. Yuan and colleagues hypothesize that the Tethyan Himalaya terrane rifted from India after ~75 Ma, generating the North India Sea. They further document a new two-stage continental collision, first at ~61 Ma between the Lhasa and Tethyan Himalaya terranes, subsequently at ~53-48 Ma between the Tethyan Himalaya terrane and India, diachronously closing the North India Sea from west to east.

Biphilic surfaces reduce defrosting times in heat exchangers
Miljkovic, along with researchers in his group, have discovered a way to significantly improve the defrosting of ice and frost on heat exchangers. Their findings, 'Dynamic Defrosting on Superhydrophobic and Biphilic Surfaces,' have been published in Matter.

How a crystalline sponge sheds water molecules
How does water leave a sponge? In a new study, scientists answer this question in detail for a porous, crystalline material made from metal and organic building blocks -- specifically, cobalt(II) sulfate heptahydrate, 5-aminoisophthalic acid and 4,4'-bipyridine. Using advanced techniques, researchers studied how this crystalline sponge changed shape as it went from a hydrated state to a dehydrated state.

Major depressive episodes far more common than previously believed, new Yale study finds
The number of adults in the United States who suffer from major depressive episodes at some point in their life is far higher than previously believed, a new study by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

National Academies publishes guide to help public officials make sense of COVID-19 data
The National Academies has published a guide to help officials across the country interpret and understand different COVID-19 statistics and data sources as they make decisions about opening and closing schools, businesses and community facilities.

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