Selected Sci-News Items July 04 - July 10, 2020

General Interest    Cosmos    Innovation    Health    Nature    Environment    Climate
 
SftPublic June zoom recordings have been uploaded to SftP website, Belmont Media Center, and WGBH Forum Network. See videos below 
 
SftPublic upcoming July zoom recordings by Belmont Media Center  
 
 
 
 
 
 
CORONAVIRUS

239 Experts With One Big Claim: The Coronavirus Is Airborne
New York Times, July 07, 2020
The W.H.O. has resisted mounting evidence that viral particles floating indoors are infectious, some scientists say. The agency maintains the research is still inconclusive. 
 
U.N. Predicts Rise In Diseases That Jump From Animals To Humans Due To Habitat Loss
NPR/WBUR, July 06. 2020
These pathogens, known as zoonotic diseases, also include Ebola, MERS, HIV/AIDS and West Nile virus.

Warning of Serious Brain Disorders in People with Mild Coronavirus Symptoms
The Guardian, July 08, 2020
UK neurologists publish details of mildly affected or recovering Covid-19 patients with serious or potentially fatal brain conditions

Six Months of Coronavirus: the Mysteries Scientists Are Still Racing to Solve
Nature, July 03, 2020
From immunity to the role of genetics, Nature looks at five pressing questions about COVID-19 that researchers are tackling.

Fever Checks Are a Flawed Way to Flag Covid-19 Cases.  Smell Tests Might Help
STAT, July 02, 2020
Of all the nose-to-toes symptoms of Covid-19, the loss of the sense of smell - also known as anosmia - could work particularly well as an add-on to temperature checks, significantly increasing the proportion of infected people identified by screening in airports, workplaces, and other public places.


GENERAL INTEREST  
 
Polynesians Steering by the Stars Met Native Americans Long Before Europeans Arrived
Science, July 08, 2020
By about 1200 C.E., Polynesians were masters of oceanic exploration, roaming 7000 kilometers across the Pacific Ocean in outrigger canoes... Did these world-class explorers make it to South America?

Why Is Glass Rigid? Signs of Its Secret Structure Emerge.
Quanta, July 07, 2020
At the molecular level, glass looks like a liquid. But an artificial neural network has picked up on hidden structure in its molecules that may explain why glass is rigid like a solid.

Bubonic Plague Found in a Herder in Inner Mongolia, China Says;
New York Times, July 06, 2020
A city put control measures in place after one confirmed case of the disease, which caused the Black Death in the Middle Ages.

The First Europeans Weren't Who You Might Think
National Geographic, August 2019 issue (archive)
Genetic tests of ancient settlers' remains show that Europe is a melting pot of bloodlines from Africa, the Middle East, and today's Russia.

How does Earth Sustain Its Magnetic Field?
Science Daily, July 06, 2020
Life as we know it could not exist without Earth's magnetic field and its ability to deflect dangerous ionizing particles. It is continuously generated by the motion of liquid iron in Earth's outer core, a phenomenon called the geo-dynamo.


COSMOS  
 
A Strange Definition of Perfect
Plus, February 05, 2020
Number theory remains one of the oldest mathematical discipline. It has a rich history full of deep and fascinating questions, many of which remain unsolved centuries later.
    
Why We Love Black Holes
Cosmos, July 06, 2020
Big discoveries ramp up excitement and expectations.
   
The Hidden Magnetic Universe Begins to Come Into View
Quanta, July 02, 2020
Astronomers are discovering that magnetic fields permeate much of the cosmos. If these fields date back to the Big Bang, they could solve a major cosmological mystery.  
 
Some Exoplanets May Be Covered in Weird Water That's Between Liquid and Gas
Science News, July 06, 2020
Wet, super-heated worlds could bridge the divide between rocky and gaseous planets.

How NASA's New Rover Will Search for Signs of Ancient Life on Mars
Science, July 02, 2020
If NASA realizes its midsummer dream, a spacecraft will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, sometime between 30 July and 15 August, destined to ignite the next generation of Mars exploration.


INNOVATION   
 

Grow a 100-Year-Old Forest in Your Backyard in Just 10 Years
Treehugger, July 06, 2020 By mimicking nature's forest-building process, it's possible to kick-start your own mini-forest.
 
A Bird? A Plane? No, It's a Google Balloon Beaming the Internet
New York Times, July 07, 2020
A commercial deal in Kenya marks the first application of balloon-powered internet in Africa, the region with the lowest percentage of internet users globally. 
 
Making Science More Equitable, Starting with 101
Symmetry, July 07, 2020
A new collaborative project aims to make introductory STEM courses successful for everyone.

Scientists Put Forward Plan to Create Universal Species List
The Guardian, July 07, 2020
Single classification system could end centuries of disagreement and improve global efforts to tackle biodiversity loss.

Engineering Plants to Withstand Drought and Tolerate Salinity
Anthropocene, July 03, 2020
A genetic tweak gives cress plants the qualities of succulents, a trait that researchers are now looking to expand into other crops.
 
HEALTH   
 
How to Boost Your Immune System
Harvard Health, April 06, 2020 (update) archive
Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans.

Australia Has a Flesh-Eating-Bacteria Problem
The Atlantic, July 03, 2020
In the beach towns south of Melbourne, everyone, it seems, knows someone who's been attacked.

My Gym Is Reopening. Is It Safe To Work Out There?
NPR/Shots, July 05, 2020
As gyms reopen across the country, here are some things to consider before heading for your workout.
 
Keeping Fit: How to Do the Right Exercise for Your Age
The Conversation, January 03, 2019 (archive)
The effect of exercise on health is profound. It can protect you from a range of conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.  
 
How to Stay Sane When the World's Going Mad
MIT Technology Review, May 20, 2020
New online tools aim to help treat people's anxiety before it reaches a crisis point.


NATURE   
 
The Evolution of Flowering Plants
Cosmos, July 08, 2020
Around 140 million years ago, flowering plants first burst into life on Earth, heralding the birth of what have become the most diverse, ecologically important plants on the planet and the major food source for humans and animals.
 
How Human Brains Are Different: It Has a Lot to Do with the Connections
Scientific American, July 07, 2020
Different mammals demonstrate common patterns in brain connections. But our own species has a few twists of its own.
 
Behind the Dead-Water Phenomenon
Phys.Org, July 06, 2020
What makes ships mysteriously slow down or even stop as they travel, even though their engines are working properly?
 
Why We Need Sharks: The True Nature of the Ocean's 'Monstrous Villains'
The Guardian, July 06, 2020
Why did dolphins get Flipper while sharks got Jaws? These majestic, diverse animals bring balance to the ocean ecosystem - and they're in grave danger.
 
Caldera Chronicles: Gases Released from Yellowstone Volcano Provides Clues to Earth's Formation
Independent Record, June 26, 2020
Earth has seemingly always provided the perfect environment for life to develop in the solar system. But how and when did the volatile elements --carbon, nitrogen and oxygen-- arrive on the planet? It turns out, the answer lies buried thousands of kilometers deep below Yellowstone National Park.


ENVIRONMENT   
 
Meat and Dairy Production Emit More Nitrogen Than Earth Can Cope With
New Scientist, July 06, 2020
The amount of nitrogen pollution emitted just by global livestock farming is more than the planet can cope with, prompting scientists to say we need to eat less meat and dairy produce.

The Newest Threat to a Warming Alaskan Arctic: Beavers
Inside Climate News, June 29, 2020
The large rodents are creating lakes that accelerate the thawing of frozen soils and potentially increase greenhouse gas emissions, a study finds.
 
Algae Turn Italian Alps Pink, Prompting Concerns Over Melting
The Guardian, July 05, 2020
Pink snow observed on parts of the Presena glacier believed to be caused by plant that makes the ice darker, causing it to melt faster.
 
Major Oil and Gas Pipeline Projects, Backed by Trump, Flounder as Opponents Prevail in Court
Washington Post, July 06, 2020
Decisions affecting Atlantic Coast, Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines dismay oil and gas industry, buoy tribal and environmental activists. 
 
Amazon Fires Are at 13-Year High for June
BBC News, July 02, 2020
Many forest fires in the country are started deliberately by illegal loggers and farmers wanting to quickly clear ground.

 
CLIMATE   
 
Year 2020: Last Chance to Avoid Rebound into Carbon Chaos Resilience, July 01, 2020 The decisions made during the remainder of this year - a mere 6 months - to recover economically from the COVID-19 crisis, are likely to determine the practical actions set in motion for the next 3 years, in terms of controlling carbon emissions, and thence the course of the climate crisis up to 2050... and beyond.
 

Spreading Rock Dust on the Ground Could Pull Carbon from the Air, Researchers Say
Washington Post, July 08, 2020
Known as enhanced rock weathering, the process involves layering crushed rock onto soil.

Some New Climate Models Are Projecting Extreme Warming. Are They Correct?
Yale Climate Connections, July 01, 2020
Recent climate models are 'running hot,' projecting catastrophic global warming. Puzzled scientists are weighing whether the models need correcting or whether severe warming is a real threat.
 
Jane Goodall on Conservation, Climate Change and COVID-19: "If We Carry On With Business as Usual, We're Going to Destroy Ourselves"
CBS News, July 02, 2020
Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned conservationist, desperately wants the world to pay attention to what she sees as the greatest threat to humanity's existence.

Think Covid-19 Disrupted the Food Chain? Wait and See What Climate Change Will Do
Inside Climate News, July 07, 2020
The pandemic has revealed deep flaws in the world's food system and food leaders are calling for global coordination and climate resilient agriculture.
 



 
 
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