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Sci-News Roundup September 16 - September 22, 2023

General Interest  Cosmos   Innovation   Health  Nature  Environment  Climate

SftPublic programs are recorded, broadcast & distributed by Belmont Media Center Community TV. The videos are uploaded to WGBH Forum Network. SftPublic website.and online channels. Beginning in September, we are adding GBH Forum Network webinars.

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Sept 12: Addressing the Threat to Earth System Boundaries (video)

Sept 19: Going to Mars? Better Take Some Gravity Forum Network webinar (see video)

Sept 26: How Clouds Predict Our Future Climate

Oct 03: Stem Cell Research and Communicating the Science Forum Network webinar

Oct 17: An Update on Those "Forever" Chemicals Forum Network webinar

Oct 23: Harvesting Electricity Out of Thin Air

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A Brief History of Pizza

Mental Floss, September 18, 2023 (this is science-lite)

The history of pizza is a large pie—half Margherita and half lies.

A Catalog of All Human Cells Reveals a Mathematical Pattern

Science News, September 18, 2023

The relationship between size and number also shows up in everything from ecosystems to language.

What Is a Quantum Particle Really Like? It’s Not What You Think

Big Think, September 19, 2023

Is it like a tiny ball — or what?

A Vanishing Nomadic Clan, With a Songlike Language All Their Own

New York Times, September 19, 2023

New genetic research confirms the oral history of a small group of nomadic people living in Indonesia’s rainforest.

The 'Science of Reading' Swept Reforms into Classrooms Nationwide. What about Math?

Phys.Org, September 12, 2023

Experts say math research hasn't gotten as much funding or attention, especially beyond the elementary level. Meanwhile, the math instruction schools are currently using doesn't work all that well. The U.S. trails other high-income countries in math performance, and lately more students graduate high school with deficits in basic math skills.

Scientists Are Tantalizingly Close to Cracking Any Ancient Texts Wide Open

Inverse, March 22, 2022

The program Ithaca is a deep neural network. It is designed to restore fragmented inscriptions and use machine learning to complete them — much like how some email clients now use autofill to guess what you want to write next.


Why We’ll Never Live in Space

Scientific American, October 2023 issue

Medical, financial and ethical hurdles stand in the way of the dream to settle in space.

“We Don’t Know What These UAP Are (But They’re Not Aliens), Says NASA

Cosmos, September 15, 2023

NASA will make a concerted push into Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena research following the release of an independent report that found no evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence behind unexplained sightings.  

NASA Probe to Drop Off Asteroid Samples After 7 Years in Deep Space

Futurism/The Byte, September 19, 2023

Scientists are besides themselves with excitement.

Webb Confirms Accuracy of Universe's Expansion Rate, Deepens Mystery of Hubble Constant Tension

Phys.Org, September 12, 2023

The rate at which the universe is expanding, known as the Hubble constant, is one of the fundamental parameters for understanding the evolution and ultimate fate of the cosmos.

Dark Photons: The Key to Unraveling the Dark Matter Mystery?

Sci-Tech Daily, September 19, 2023

“The key to understanding this mystery could lie with the dark photon, a theoretical massive particle that may serve as a portal between the dark sector of particles and regular matter.”


AI-Tech Firms Locked in ‘Race to the Bottom’, Warns MIT Professor

The Guardian, September 21, 2023

Physicist Max Tegmark says competition too intense for tech executives to pause development to consider AI risks.

A Gel That Turns Hot Air Into Drinking Water

Cosmos, September 14, 2023

A team of US researchers has made a hydrogel that can suck clean water out of the air in very hot conditions. The energy-efficient material could be used to provide drinking water in places where access is limited.

Human Trials of Artificial Wombs Could Start Soon. Here’s What You Need to Know

Nature, September 14, 2023

US regulators will consider clinical trials of a system that mimics the womb, which could reduce deaths and disability for babies born extremely preterm.

Musk, Zuckerberg Visit US Congress to Discuss AI

TechXplore, September 13, 2023

Big tech bigwigs including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to share their plans for artificial intelligence as the US prepares to draw up legislation to better control the technology.

Errors In a Federal Carbon Capture Analysis Are a Warning for Clean Energy Spending, Former Official Says

Inside Climate News, September 16, 2023

A coal plant seeking hundreds of millions in public funding submitted an analysis riddled with mistakes, according to a former Energy Department official. But the government published it anyway.


CDC Greenlights Two Updated COVID-19 Vaccines, But How Will They Fare Against the Latest Variants? 5 Questions Answered

The Conversation, September 12, 2023

The Conversation asked Prakash Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti, a husband and wife team of immunologists from the University of South Carolina, to weigh in on how the new vaccines might stand up against the latest COVID-19 variants that are swirling across the globe.

Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity Early in the Day Influences Weight Management, Health Outcomes

EurekAlert!, September 19, 2023

Even though epidemiological evidence has been controversial regarding the optimal timing of physical activity for weight management, the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. appear to be the most favorable time of day to enhance the association between daily moderate to vigorous physical activity and obesity.

7 Habits to Live a Healthier Life, Inspired by the World's Longest-Lived Communities

NPR/Shots, September 09, 2023 (w/audio)

At a time when life expectancy in the U.S. has dipped and diet-related disease is a leading cause of death, it's no wonder that Dan Buettner's decades-long exploration of centenarians who thrive in the longest-lived communities on Earth is attracting lots of attention.

The Best Macronutrient Ratio for Weight Loss

Healthline, March 22, 2023

Macronutrients are nutrients that your body needs in large amounts, namely carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

High Blood Pressure Affects 1 in 3 Adults Worldwide, and Most Are Not Properly Treated: Report

Medical Express, September 19, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) released its first-ever report on the devastating global impact of high blood pressure, along with recommendations on the ways to win the race against this silent killer.

What Color Is Your Tongue? What's Healthy, What's Not?

Harvard Health, September 13, 2023

The muscular organ that helps us speak, taste, and swallow has a certain look when it's healthy.


Scientists Discover a Labyrinth of Life Hidden in the Deep

Hakai, September 19, 2023

A deep-sea expedition in Central America uncovers symbiotic bacteria and tube worm nurseries thriving below the seafloor.

How Climate Change Impacts Fall Foliage

Columbia Climate School, September 26, 2022

The timing of when leaves change from green to a colorful mélange depends on two factors: temperature and light.

Shifts in Tectonic Plates Change Biodiversity

EOS, September 18, 2023

A 36-million-year cycle of marine biodiversity booms and busts matches the movements of plate tectonics, linking what happens deep below the ocean to what’s happening in it.

Ancient Origins of Brain Cells Found in Creatures From 800 Million Years Ago

Science Alert, September 20, 2023

The building blocks of our brain cells may have begun to form back when our ancestors were still a blobby collection of animal cells oozing through the ocean's shallows.

Sixth Mass Extinction Is Wiping Out Entire Branches of Earth's Tree of Life

Earth, September 19, 2023

The sixth mass extinction, primarily driven by human activities, is more dire than previously anticipated. Not only are we seeing a rapid extinction of species, but entire branches on the tree of life are now disappearing.


Earth Is Outside Its ‘Safe Operating Space for Humanity’ on Most Key Measurements, Study Says

AP News, September 13, 2023

Earth is exceeding its “safe operating space for humanity” in six of nine key measurements of its health, and two of the remaining three are headed in the wrong direction, a new study said.

Ocean Heatwaves More Frequent, Intense

Cosmos, September 19, 2023

While scientists have long warned of the negative effects marine heatwaves have at the ocean’s surface, new research suggests these temperature spikes are also having prolonged impacts deeper down.

Experts Call for Global Moratorium on Efforts to Geoengineer Climate

The Guardian, September 14, 2023

Techniques such as solar radiation management may have unintended consequences, scientists say.

Everyone Is Likely Overexposed to BPA – EU

Environmental Health News, September 18, 2023

If you're using plastic, you're likely above acceptable health safety levels.

Road Hazard: Evidence Mounts on Toxic Pollution from Tires

Yale Environment 360, September 19, 2023

Researchers are only beginning to uncover the toxic cocktail of chemicals, microplastics, and heavy metals hidden in car and truck tires. But experts say these tire emissions are a significant source of air and water pollution and may be affecting humans as well as wildlife.


UN Chief Warns of ‘Gates to Hell’ in Climate Summit, But Carbon Polluting Nations Stay Silent

AP, September 20, 2023

The head of the United Nations warned Wednesday that the “gates of hell” are at hand as climate change intensifies, and top international officials said the world’s leaders still aren’t doing nearly enough to curb pollution of heat-trapping gases. They pleaded with major emitting nations to do more.

Outrage and Hope on the Streets of New York

New York Times, September 19, 2023

Sunday (09/18) in New York was as pleasant as a late summer day can be. But as tens of thousands of dancing, chanting, sign-wielding protesters took over Midtown Manhattan for the March to End Fossil Fuels, the specter of fires, floods and storms was on everyone’s mind.

New Files Shed Light on ExxonMobil Efforts to Undermine Climate Science

The Guardian, September 14, 2023

Executives privately sought to downplay link between fossil fuels and climate change despite public pronouncements, Wall St Journal reports.

'The Climate Crisis Is Not Unstoppable'

The Ecologist, September 19, 2023

This 23-year-old says, "My generation is the first to grow up with a real understanding of the climate crisis and the last that can do anything about it."

Ice Cores Reveal Antarctica Is Warming Twice as Fast as Global Average

Carbon Brief, September 13, 2023

As the world heats up in response to human-caused carbon emissions, scientists expect that the Earth’s poles will experience the largest increases in temperature. This is already being seen in the Arctic, which has warmed nearly four times faster than the global average over the past four decades.

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