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Full Recovery for Coral Reef Within 4 Years – The Speed of Restoration They Saw was ‘Incredible’

in Environment 456 views

In a truly monumental discovery, scientists studying coral restoration in Indonesia found that artificially restored coral reefs can regrow as fast a naturally occurring reefs just 4 years after the initial transplantation.

With many reefs around the world believed to be threatened by stronger storms and acidic seas, the finding shows that as long as corals can survive in the water, humans can quickly rebuild reefs that are damaged.

The study was conducted at the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Program in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, one of the largest restoration projects in the world, and included an international team of marine biologists. The site was turned from a colorful reef to rubble 30 to 40 years ago from dynamite fishing.

At the project site, “reef stars” are first affixed to the seafloor. These small, recycled metal scaffolds provide a foundation for the coral larvae to glom onto and begin building their hard bodies.

“Corals constantly add calcium carbonate to the reef framework while some fishes and sea urchins erode it away, so calculating the overall carbonate budget basically tells you if the reef as a whole is growing or shrinking,” says Ines Lange of University of Exeter, UK.

“Positive reef growth is important to keep up with sea-level rise, protect coastlines from storms and erosion, and provide habitat for reef animals.”

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NASA to Send ‘Message in a Bottle’ Into Space Designed to Communicate With Extraterrestrials

in Astronomy 435 views

In 1977 it was a golden record, now scientists are sending a “message in a bottle” into space to communicate with aliens.

NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will carry a message from Earth in the form of an inscribed plaque when it launches in October, 2024, and heads toward Jupiter’s moon Europa.

On one side is an engraving of U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón’s handwritten work In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa, along with a picture of a bottle bobbing in the ocean, at the center of which sits a silicon microchip stenciled with more than 2.6 million names submitted by the public.

Above the poem, the artwork also includes a longhand engraving of the Drake Equation, which was formulated by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961 to estimate the possibility of finding advanced civilizations beyond Earth.

To the left of the poem is a portrait of one of the founders of planetary science, Ron Greeley, whose early efforts to develop a Europa mission two decades ago laid the foundation for Europa Clipper, and in between these sits a visual representation of the radio frequencies considered plausible for interstellar communication, symbolizing how humanity uses this radio band to listen for messages from the cosmos.

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Bizarre New Plant Species Feeds on Fungi: First New Flora Species in 100 Years to Be Discovered in Japan

in Environment 315 views

In botany, it’s well-established that plants and fungi have multiple symbiotic relationships under the dirt of the forest floor, but a new species of plant identified in Japan has been found actually consuming fungi—a behavior never observed before.

Scientists also say it’s the first time a new plant has been identified in Japan—a country renowned for its extensive flora research—in almost 100 years.

The new species of fairy lantern, a group of tiny glass-like plants, is white and doesn’t engage in photosynthesis, but rather feeds on fungal mycelia in the ground.

Fairy lanterns, or Thismiaceae as they are known to botanists, are very unusual plants found mainly in tropical but also in subtropical and temperate regions.

The Japanese researchers explained that they are often hidden under fallen leaves and only for a brief period produce above-ground flowers that look like glasswork.

The Japanese name for Thismia, one of the major groups within this family, is Tanuki-no-shokudai—which means “raccoon dog’s candleholder” and refers both to their shape and their underground lifestyle.

However, they are also extremely rare and difficult to find.

“At present, approximately 100 species within the family have been identified, nearly half of which are known only from their first discovery, sometimes from a single specimen,” said Kobe University botanist Dr. Kenji Suetsugu.

Dr. Suetsugu has long-term collaborations with local botanists who have access to secluded areas all over Japan.

“The dedication of Japanese amateur researchers to revealing the hidden flora of these regions has been crucial in identifying species unknown to science.”

When he was sent a specimen of a fairy lantern that a hobby botanist had found and that a local expert thought represented a new species of the genus of Tanuki-no-shokudai, he knew he had to investigate.

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Footage of an Eclipse on Mars Sparks Amusement Because it Looks Like a Googly Eye

in Astronomy 307 views

The Perseverance rover on Mars recorded the potato-shaped moon of Phobos crossing in front of the Sun last week—a Martian eclipse.

The rover was able to snap 68 images of the February 8th transit from its vantage point in the Jezero Crater, many of which unmistakably looked like classic, stick-on googly eyes, points out a science writer.

“Each time these eclipses are observed, they allow scientists to measure subtle shifts in Phobos’ orbit over time,” NASA wrote.

The pictures were captured using the rover’s left Mastcam-Z camera, usually used to take panoramic views of the Martian landscape.

Scientists will be able to use the data captured to study Phobos, named after the ancient Greek god of fear. Phobos is on a collision course with Mars, nearing the Red Planet at a rate of six feet (1.8 meters) every hundred years.

At that rate, the moon will either crash into Mars in 50 million years or break up into a ring.

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New Prosthetic Hand Allows Man to Sense Temperature: ‘I could feel the warmth of another person’

in Uncategorized 327 views

The first-ever prosthetic limb that allows the wearer to sense temperature and feel the warmth of another person has been created.

The MiniTouch device allows amputees to perceive and respond to temperature, an ability that developers hope will improve their human connections.

It works by transmitting thermal information from the fingertip of the prosthetic hand to the wearer’s residual arm.

Using the device, a man in Italy who’s been an amputee for three decades was able to differentiate between hot and cold objects with 100 percent accuracy.

The scientists in Italy and Switzerland hope it could soon restore a full range of sensations through prosthetics.

The MiniTouch prosthetic hand provided realistic and real-time thermal sensory feedback to a 57-year-old man from Pistoia—the first amputee to try the device.

Fabrizio was overcome with emotions after feeling the warmth of another person again, 37 years after his hand was amputated from the wrist.

“It was a very strong emotion for me. It was like reactivating a connection with someone.”

Using the MiniTouch, Fabrizio was able to discriminate between, and manually sort, objects of different temperatures or materials. (See the video below from Reuters…)

“When one of the researchers placed the sensor on his own body, I could feel the warmth of another person with my phantom hand,” said Fabrizio.

The team says the new technology, presented in a study published in the journal Med, marks the first time natural temperature sensations have been incorporated into a functional artificial limb—one of the last frontiers for restoring sensation to robotic hands.

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Single-Dose of Gene Therapy Hailed as ‘Magic Wand’ for Patients with Deadly Condition, Transforming Lives

in Health 65 views

CRISPR is at it again: this time providing a single-dose option to cure a debilitating genetic disorder called hereditary angioedema.

Patients who took part in the first human trial have reported dramatic improvements in their health and quality of life, easing or completely removing the painful and potentially fatal swelling that arises from the condition.

Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 50,000 people, and causes bouts of painful swelling arising from leaky blood vessels. The swelling can occur at any time, as often as twice a week, and can last for hours or even days.

In some cases the swelling will occur in the throat, and hospitalization is required.

HAE is caused by a mutation in the C1 inhibitor gene, which codes for the regulation of the protein kallikrein, which itself helps regulate another protein called bradykinin. The dysfunction of this three-part interaction leads to the leaky blood vessels inherent in the disease.

The phase-one human trial was conducted in the UK, Netherlands, and New Zealand, and saw 10 patients receive a dose of nanolipids delivered via the Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR gene-editing technology that corrects the C1 kallikrein gene.

“I’ve had a radical improvement in my physical and mental wellbeing,” said 54-year-old Cleveland, from Suffolk, UK. “The randomness, unpredictability, and potential severity of the attacks have made trying to live my life almost impossible. I spent my life constantly wondering if my next attack would be severe.”

Another patient described it acting as sure and thorough as a “medical magic wand,” and described herself as having a “whole new life.”

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A Scientific Observation of Love and Loss on the Cellular Level

in Health 95 views

Dopamine—the same chemical signal that drives us to seek out everything from water to intimacy to cocaine, leaves a lasting imprint on the brains of monogamous animals, a new study reveals.

While the role of oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ has been well studied in the context of human and animal pair bonding, it’s the reward hormone, or dopamine, that’s responsible for why we desire to be with some people more than others.

Hormones are endogenous chemical signals that drive behavior and organ function, and dopamine is sent into the brain’s nucleus accumbens region as both the metaphorical carrot on a stick and pat on the back for accomplishing a task, whether that’s climbing Mount Everest, or going into the kitchen to get a snack.

In a study that looked at prairie voles, a small rodent that mates for life, scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder, found that dopamine is also responsible for driving these little animals to want to be with their pair-bonded partners.

“What we have found, essentially, is a biological signature of desire that helps us explain why we want to be with some people more than other people,” said senior author Zoe Donaldson, associate professor of behavioral neuroscience. “This research suggests that certain people leave a unique chemical imprint on our brain that drives us to maintain these bonds over time.”

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Astronomers Detect Oldest Black Hole Ever Observed Dating ‘From the Dawn of the Universe’

in Astronomy 50 views

Researchers have discovered the oldest black hole ever observed, dating from the dawn of the universe, and found that it’s still in the process of consuming its host galaxy.

The international team, led by the University of Cambridge, used the James Webb Space Telescope to detect the black hole, which dates from 400 million years after the Big Bang, more than 13 billion years ago.

The results, which lead author Professor Roberto Maiolino says are “a giant leap forward”, are reported in the journal Nature.

That this surprisingly massive black hole—a few million times the mass of our Sun—even exists so early in the universe challenges our assumptions about how black holes form and grow.

Astronomers believe that the supermassive black holes found at the center of galaxies like the Milky Way grew to their current size over billions of years. But the size of this newly-discovered black hole suggests that they might form in other ways: they might be ‘born big’ or they can consume matter at a rate that’s five times higher than had been thought possible.

According to standard models, supermassive black holes form from the remnants of dead stars, which collapse and may form a black hole about a hundred times the mass of the Sun. If it grew in an expected way, this newly detected black hole would take about a billion years to grow to its observed size. The catch is that the universe was not yet a billion years old when this black hole was detected.

“It’s very early in the universe to see a black hole this massive, so we’ve got to consider other ways they might form,” said Maiolino, from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and Kavli Institute of Cosmology.

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Newly Discovered Giant Dinosaur Species May Be Closest Known Relative of T. rex

in Animals 54 views

A newly discovered giant dinosaur species may be the closest relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, and could even represent the moment that the genus experimented with a huge body.

The new species was recently described in the journal Scientific Reports by paleontologist Sebastian Dalman and his colleagues. It was a mighty carnivore that lived in North America around five million years before T. rex.

Named Tyrannosaurus mcraeensis, proof of its distinction came from examinations of parts of the animal’s fossilized skull, which was previously discovered at the Hall Lake Formation in New Mexico.

Although the remains were initially assigned to T. rex and are comparable in size to its 30-foot-long body, the research team say that they belong to a new species due to the presence of multiple “subtle” differences in the shape of, and joins between, the skull bones of the specimen and T. rex.

Based on the locations of the remains in relation to rocks and other dinosaur fossils, the researchers suggest that T. mcraeensis may have lived between 71 and 73 million years ago—between five and seven million years before T. rex.

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Spacefaring Japan Looks to Become the 5th Country to Land on the Moon This Month

in Astronomy 65 views

Mere months after India established itself as the fourth Lunar power, Japan is set to land on our nearest celestial body this month.

JAXA, or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, has accomplished a number of hugely impressive spacefaring feats over the last three decades, including a sample-return mission from the Ryugu Asteroid, which has never been done before, even by the US.

Now, with their Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) entering Lunar orbit on Christmas Day, JAXA is poised for a January 19th descent onto the Lunar surface.

SLIM is “a mission for researching the pinpoint landing technology necessary for future lunar probes and verifying this on the surface of the moon with a small-scale probe,” JAXA officials wrote in a mission description.

The hope is that they will be able to land on a select point with an accuracy of 300 feet. The spacecraft left Earth on September 8th along with XRISM, a powerful X-ray telescope that remained in Earth’s orbit.

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