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Multimessenger Astronomy

Article by Dr. Amira Val Baker, Astrophysicist, Resonance Science Foundation Research Scientist

In-direct observations of black holes are made through the detection of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the surrounding matter, and more recently through the detection of gravitational waves. Now for the first time, at an observatory 5000 feet below the Antarctic ice, astronomers have observed a black hole through the detection of neutrinos!

Neutrinos are subatomic fundamental particles, that are produced through radioactive decay – that is the spontaneous decomposition of a nucleus into a more stable configuration. These high energy particles are also weakly interacting at the electromagnetic level and are thus able to traverse vast distances across space and time, carrying information from the most distant parts of the Universe. On the other hand, the highly energetic enigmatic particles such as protons, electrons or atomic nuclei – known as cosmic rays – are...

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Spiders Can Fly Thousands of Miles With Electric Power

biophysics science news Jul 06, 2018
By: Becky Ferreira

On Halloween in 1832, the naturalist Charles Darwin was onboard the HMS Beagle. He marveled at spiders that had landed on the ship after floating across huge ocean distances. “I caught some of the Aeronaut spiders which must have come at least 60 miles,” he noted in his diary. “How inexplicable is the cause which induces these small insects, as it now appears in both hemispheres, to undertake their aerial excursions.”

Small spiders achieve flight by aiming their butts at the sky and releasing tendrils of silk to generate lift. Darwin thought that electricity might be involved when he noticed that spider silk stands seemed to repel each other with electrostatic force, but many scientists assumed that the arachnids, known as “ballooning” spiders, were simply sailing on the wind like a paraglider. The wind power explanation has thus far been unable to account for observations of spiders rapidly launching into the...

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Two Different Forms of Water Isolated for First Time

biophysics science news Jul 01, 2018

Scientists have isolated the two different forms of water molecule for the first time.

Water molecules were known to exist as two distinct "isomers", or types, based on their slightly different properties at the atomic level.

By separating out the two isomers, researchers were able to show that they behave differently in the way that they undergo chemical reactions.

The work appears in Nature Communications.

In basic terms, water molecules consist of a single oxygen atom bonded to a pair of hydrogen atoms (HO).

However, they can be further subdivided based on a property of the nuclei at the hearts of the hydrogen atoms - their "spin".

While they aren't spinning in the sense we would understand, this property of hydrogen nuclei does affect the rotation of the water molecules themselves.

If the nuclear spins of the two hydrogen atoms in water are oriented in the same direction, it is called ortho-water. If they are arranged in different directions, it is known as para-water.

...

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Habitable Water World Exoplanets

astrophysics science news Jun 30, 2018

Scientists expand the range of conditions thought to be suitable for habitability of exoplanets. A new study provides new clues indicating that an exoplanet 500 light-years away is much like Earth. Kepler-186f is the first identified Earth-sized planet outside the Solar System orbiting a star in the habitable zone. This means it's the proper distance from its host star for liquid water to pool on the surface.

The conventional way of approaching the defining categories of what can be termed a habitable planet is to compare how similar the planet is to Earth. This means that planets must occupy an orbital location around their central star where liquid water can exist—the so-called circumstellar habitable zone—they must be terrestrial bodies, not too big and not too small. However, this conservative perspective defining what can be considered a habitable planet is based on the presumption that life elsewhere in the galaxy must be like life on Earth—it also...

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DNA Acts Like a Wire to Conduct Electron Signals Between Proteins for Repair and Replication

biophysics science news Jun 25, 2018

"DNA charge transport," a process used in DNA repair, is disrupted by a colon cancer mutation

One of the biggest helpers in our bodies' ongoing efforts to prevent DNA mutations—mutations that can lead to cancer—is actually rather tiny. Electrons, as it turns out, can signal certain proteins to patch up DNA damage. More specifically, the movement of electrons through DNA, traveling between repair proteins bound to the double helix, helps our cells scan for mistakes that regularly arise in our DNA.

Known as DNA charge transport, this biochemical process was first discovered in the early 1990s by Caltech's Jacqueline Barton, the John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry, through chemistry experiments using synthetic DNA. Her research group then found evidence that this charge transport chemistry might be utilized by DNA repair proteins in bacteria. Now, a new study shows that DNA charge transport is also at work in human versions of DNA repair...

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Not Junk: ‘Jumping Gene’ Is Critical for Early Embryo

Uncategorized Jun 22, 2018

A so-called “jumping gene” that researchers long considered either genetic junk or a pernicious parasite is actually a critical regulator of the first stages of embryonic development, according to a new study in mice led by UC San Francisco scientists and published June 21, 2018 in Cell.

Only about 1 percent of the human genome encodes proteins, and researchers have long debated what the other 99 percent is good for. Many of these non–protein coding regions are known to contain important regulatory elements that orchestrate gene activity, but others are thought to be evolutionary garbage that is just too much trouble for the genome to clean up.

For example, fully half of our DNA is made up of “transposable elements,” or “transposons,” virus-like genetic material that has the special ability of duplicating and reinserting itself in different locations in the genome, which has led researchers to dub them genetic parasites. Over the course...

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Friction Has Memory, Say Physicists

science news technology Jun 19, 2018
Article by Resonance Science Foundation

Experiments by Sam Dillavou and Shmuel Rubinstein at Harvard University have, for the first time, revealed that the friction between two surfaces has a “memory”. This means that the force can depend not only on the present state of the interface but also on how the interface has reached its current state.

This new insight could have a bearing on how physicists characterize friction in materials such as rock, metals and paper and apply to a wide range of physical systems from micromachines to earthquakes.

Contact area

The amount of friction generated by two surfaces is directly related to their contact area. Microscopic irregularities in the surfaces are gradually flattened as time progresses, increasing the contact area and therefore increasing friction.

Under these conditions, the contact area, and thus friction, increases logarithmically with time in a process known as ageing. “The observed behaviour is...

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The Search For Supernovae With The Re-Purposed Kepler – K2

Article by Dr. Amira Val Baker, Astrophysicist, Resonance Science Foundation Research Scientist

The latest supernovae survey reveals the crucial importance in furthering our understanding of supernovae and reaching confident conclusions as soon as possible.

The standard theory of stellar evolution results in an explosion and is revealed in a rare and beautiful astronomical event. Astronomers search for these events in the hope that they will provide greater insight into our understanding of stellar evolution. Although each supernovae event is different, specific stars will yield certain characteristics. One type of Supernovae event that is of particular interest is the type associated with a binary star system in which one of the components is a white dwarf – this is known as a Type 1a supernova. White dwarfs are extremely dense stars that have exhausted all their hydrogen and their extreme density is thus a result of them not being able to support the inward pull of gravity...

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Speculative Wormhole Echoes Could Revolutionize Astrophysics

astrophysics science news Jun 12, 2018
by Resonance Science Foundation

The scientific collaborations LIGO and Virgo have detected gravitational waves from the fusion of two black holes, inaugurating a new era in the study of the cosmos. But what if those ripples of space-time were not produced by black holes, but by other exotic objects? A team of European physicists suggest an alternative—wormholes that can be traversed to appear in another universe.

Scientists have deduced the existence of black holes from a multitude of experiments, theoretical models and indirect observations such as the recent LIGO detections, which are believed to originate from the collision of two of these dark gravitational monsters.

But there is a problem with black holes—they present an edge, called an event horizon, from which nothing can escape. This is in conflict with quantum mechanics, whose postulates ensure that information is always preserved, not lost.

One of the theoretical ways to deal with this conflict...

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Saturn’s Rings Reveal Sought After Spin Rate

astrophysics science news Jun 06, 2018
Image by NASA's Cassini spacecraft

The rotation speed – spin rate – of Saturn was previously found through observations of its magnetic field. Now, scientists have determined the spin rate through ripples in its rings!

NASA's twin voyager probes, launched over 40 years ago, observed the swirling magnetic field of Saturn, from which it was able to deduce a rotation period for the magnetic field and conclude a spin rate of 10 hours and 40 minutes. During this mission, in the 1980’s, the ring system was observed in great detail revealing the gravitational effects of Saturn’s moons on the rock and ice particles in the rings. When the particles and moons orbit at simple ratios of each other, the particles are periodically kicked by the moons. These kicks, known as orbital resonance, can launch waves that propagate away from the planet – with some anomalous “backwards” waves.

Detailed observations of these waves have been made, since 2000,...

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