Three years ago, the place you are reading about now did not exist. Then, suddenly, an underwater volcano erupted in the middle of the South Pacific, and by the time the smoke and ash cleared, a new land mass stood revealed – an island that no-one had ever seen before. That’s how the volcanic island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Hunga Tonga) came into the world in January 2015, nestling in between two existing, uninhabited Polynesian islands that make up part of the Kingdom of Tonga.

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Scientists are tracking small differences in DNA to explain why the disease has different effects.


It has been one of the most baffling aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Healthy young men and women have become infected with the virus and developed life-threatening side effects. But at the same time, many of their contemporaries have simply shrugged off the condition. Unknown factors are clearly leaving some people vulnerable to the pandemic’s worst effects even though some of them are young, are not overweight and do not suffer from other obvious health problems. Scientists think that tiny genetic differences are causing some to be struck down while many others are spared.


MIT engineers designed a tiny “brain-on-a-chip” from tens of thousands of artificial brain synapses known as memristors — silicon-based components that mimic the information-transmitting synapses in the human brain.


The researchers borrowed from principles of metallurgy to fabricate each memristor from alloys of silver and copper, along with silicon. When they ran the chip through several visual tasks, the chip was able to “remember” stored images and reproduce them many times over, in versions that were crisper and cleaner compared with existing memristor designs made with unalloyed elements.


While NASA set their sights on the Moon and outer planets, the Soviets spent some 30 years investigating the hellish inner planet Venus.


The Pioneer and Voyager probes the United States sent to explore the outer planets in the 1970s are often, and accurately, lauded as historic interplanetary achievements. That’s partly because, equipped with the Pioneer Plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, these objects are ostensibly meant to be found by aliens someday, helping them easily burrow into public consciousness. Similarly, robotic explorers to Mars, including the Viking landers and the Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers, take innumerable headlines, and they’re often even given anthropomorphized personalities.


Five years ago today, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft — designed, built and operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland — made history. After a voyage of nearly 10 years and more than 3 billion miles, the intrepid piano-sized probe flew within 7,800 miles of Pluto. For the first time ever, we saw the surface of this distant world in spectacular, colored detail.

The encounter — which also included a detailed look at the largest of Pluto’s five moons, Charon — capped the initial reconnaissance of the planets started by NASA’s Mariner 2 mission more than ​50 years before. It revealed an icy world replete in magnificent landscapes and geology — towering mountains, giant ice sheets, pits, scarps, valleys and terrains seen nowhere else in the solar system.

Extremely small antibodies, known as nanobodies, have been shown to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. But they’re extracted from llamas and camels, which is problematic for a number of reasons. Now, scientists have identified a synthetic form of a nanobody, known as a sybody, which shows affinity to SARS-CoV-2 and neutralizing capabilities.


For SARS-CoV-2 to infect humans, the viral Spike (S) protein must interact with and bind to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor on the surface of human cells. The S protein achieves this via the receptor binding domains (RBDs), and thus blocking the RBD using antibodies is just one therapeutic avenue that is being explored for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2. 


Nuclear clocks are a tick closer to reality thanks to experiments that measured the energy of the lowest excited state of a thorium-229 nucleus to the highest precision ever. A clock based on transitions between such nuclear states would be much more accurate than existing atomic clocks and would therefore place tighter constraints on the Standard Model of particle physics.

Atomic clocks “tick” at frequencies set by the regular transitions of electrons within atoms or ions, as measured by a laser kept in resonance with these transitions. Today’s best atomic clocks are accurate to within one part in 1018, which means they would slow down by less than one second if left running for 13 billion years (the age of the universe). However, a clock that relied on nuclear transitions would be more accurate still, because the small size of an atomic nucleus relative to an atom’s electron shell means that the behavior of the former is less affected by external electromagnetic fields.

Having dropped tantalising hints days ago about an "exciting new discovery about the Moon", the US space agency has revealed conclusive evidence of water on our only natural satellite.

This "unambiguous detection of molecular water" will boost Nasa’s hopes of establishing a lunar base.

The aim is to sustain that base by tapping into the Moon’s natural resources.

The findings have been published as two papers in the journal Nature Astronomy.

While there have previously been signs of water on the lunar surface, these new discoveries suggest it is more abundant than previously thought. "It gives us more options for potential water sources on the Moon," said Hannah Sargeant, a planetary scientist from the Open University in Milton Keynes, told BBC News.


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In a new international cross disciplinary study, researchers have used artificial intelligence to analyze large amounts of historical photos from WW2. Among other things, the study shows that artificial intelligence can recognize the identity of photographers based on the content of photos taken by them.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is finally able to identify photographers based on the content of images they’ve taken. This is the conclusion of a new study at AU Engineering, Aarhus University, where, in collaboration with Tampere University and the Finnish Environment Institute, researchers have used state-of-the-art artificial intelligence to trawl through photographs taken by 23 well-known Finnish photographers during the Second World War.



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