January 19, 2018

Week In STEM-31st Oct

New battery developed in Cambridge ‘world’s most efficient’

Scientists in Cambridge have created the world’s most energy efficient battery.

The breakthrough, from the University of Cambridge, could speed up the development of batteries that could boost electric cars, and provide a longer lasting charge for smartphones.

The findings have been published in the journal Science.

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Links between Gut Microbes and the Brain

A growing body of data, mostly from animals raised in sterile, germ-free conditions, shows that microbes in the gut influence behaviour and can alter brain physiology and neurochemistry.

In humans, the data are more limited. Researchers have drawn links between gastrointestinal pathology and psychiatric neurological conditions such as anxiety, depression, autism, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders—but they are just links.

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Oxygen discovered on Rosetta comet

Scientists have for the first time detected oxygen on a comet, a finding that could upend theories about how the solar system was formed.

Reporting their findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday, an international team said that they detected “a lot” of molecular oxygen in the cloud of gas, or coma, surrounding the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

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New class of DNA repair enzyme discovered

A new class of DNA repair enzyme has been discovered which demonstrates that a much broader range of damage can be removed from the double helix in ways that biologists did not think were possible.

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Scientists discover five new nuclei

Lawrence Livermore scientists, in conjunction with international researchers, have discovered five new atomic nuclei to be added the chart of nuclides.

The study, conducted this fall, focuses on developing new methods of synthesis for super heavy . The newly discovered, exotic nuclei are one isotope each of heavy elements berkelium, neptunium and uranium and two of the element americium.

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Low-fat diet not most effective in long-term weight loss

The effectiveness of low-fat diet on weight-loss has been debated for decades, and hundreds of randomized clinical trials aimed at evaluating this issue have been conducted with mixed results. New research finds that low-fat interventions were no more successful than higher-fat interventions in achieving and maintaining weight loss for periods longer than one year.

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Africa produces just 1.1% of global scientific knowledge

But one new organisation hopes to turn this story around. AESA (the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa), of which I am the director, has been founded by the African Academy of Sciences and the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development as a body that will award research grants to African universities, advise them on financial best practice and develop a science strategy for Africa. Our vision is to make research an attractive, recognised career option in Africa, creating scientists who stay in the continent and can win their own grants to address local problems.

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Sonic tractor beam invented

A team of researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Sussex in collaboration with Ultrahaptics have built the world’s first sonic tractor beam that can lift and move objects using sound waves.

Tractor beams are mysterious rays that can grab and lift objects. The concept has been used by science-fiction writers, and programmes like Star Trek, but has since come to fascinate scientists and engineers. Researchers have now built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to generate an acoustic hologram which can pick up and move small objects.

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New wasp species emerging

A new study from biologists at Rice University, the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Florida finds that ongoing evolutionary changes in one fruit fly species are having a domino effect on at least three species of predatory wasps. The researchers focused on the jump of a native North American fruit fly onto apple trees in the 1850s.

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Novartis Foundation launch new hypertension program

The Novartis Foundation and its partners have begun screening patients in the Community-based Hypertension Improvement Project (ComHIP), a two-year program designed to evaluate the impact of an innovative healthcare model on hypertension management and control in Ghana.

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West African Inventor Makes a $100 3D Printer From E-Waste

Kodjo Afate Gnikou, a resourceful inventor from Togo in West Africa, has made a $100 3D printerwhich he constructed from parts he scrounged from broken scanners, computers, printers and other e-waste. The fully functional DIY printer cost a fraction of those currently on the market, and saves environmentally damaging waste from reaching landfill sites.

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Sleep disruptions spur Alzheimer’s memory, learning loss

Chemical changes in brain cells caused by disturbances in the body’s day-night cycle may be a key underlying cause of the learning and memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

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Mysterious space object set to enter Earth’s atmosphere next month

A mysterious piece of space junk dubbed WT1190F will enter Earth’s atmosphere on Friday Nov. 13, scientists say, plunging into the Indian Ocean about 62 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka. “The object is likely man made,” explained the NEOCC, in a statement, noting that, at most, it is about 6.6 feet wide. “The object is quite small, at most a couple of meters in diameter, and a significant fraction if not all of it can be expected to completely burn up in the atmosphere.”

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