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Sci-News Roundup April 13 - April 19, 2024

General Interest  Cosmos   Innovation   Health  Nature  Environment  Climate

SftPublic programs are recorded, broadcast & distributed by Belmont Media Center TV & are uploaded to SftPublic website event pages and YouTube channel

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Upcoming Events

Mar 19 Biodiversity in the Sixth Mass Extinction (Belmont Media Ctr) (video here)

Mar 26 Needed: An International Climate Change Solution (CANCELLED)

Apr 23 How Effective Are Vitamin D Supplements? (Belmont Media Ctr)

May 06 Kingdom of Play (Forum Network webinar)


A Brief, Weird History of Brainwashing

MIT Technology Review, April 12, 2024

War correspondent Edward Hunter achieved brief media stardom in 1951 after his book Brain-Washing in Red China introduced a new concept to the American public: a supposedly scientific system for changing people’s minds, even making them love things they once hated.

Egyptian Temples: How the Egyptians Depicted the Universe in Microcosm

The Collector, March 24, 2024

Elements of temple architecture, artistic styles, royal practices, and more changed, but at the heart of it all, certain concepts and beliefs remained constant.

First Fractal Molecule in Nature Assembles Into a Sierpinski Triangle And We Don't Know Why

Science Alert, April 16, 2024 (great image)

Researchers from Germany, Sweden, and the UK have discovered an enzyme produced by a single-celled organism that can arrange itself into a fractal – not just any fractal, but a repeating pattern of triangles known as a Sierpiński triangle.

Team Finds Evidence of Commonly Conducted Ritualized Human Sacrifice Across Europe in the Stone Age

Phys.Org, April 11, 2024

A team of archaeologists affiliated with several institutions in France and one in Germany has found that ritualized human sacrifice was common across Europe during the Neolithic.

Avi Wigderson, Complexity Theory Pioneer, Wins Turing Award

Quanta, April 10, 2024

The prolific researcher found deep connections between randomness and computation and spent a career influencing cryptographers, complexity researchers and more.


Our Galaxy’s Biggest Black Hole Just Got a New Close-up. What’s Next Could Be Even Wilder

Scientific American, April 16, 2024 

As remarkable as [recent] observations may be, they pale in comparison to what some astronomers hope to see a decade from now with an upgraded Event Horizon Telescope.

World’s Top Cosmologists Convene to Question Conventional View of the Universe

The Guardian, April 14, 2024

Meeting at London’s Royal Society will scrutinize basic model first formulated in 1922 that universe is a vast, even expanse with no notable features.

The Current Mars Sample Return Mission isn’t Going to Work. NASA is Going Back to the Drawing Board

Universe Today, April 16 2024

The original plan was to work with ESA to collect samples from Perseverance and return them to Earth by 2031. Alas like many things, costs were increasing and timescales were slipping and with the budget challenges, NASA has had to rework their plan.

Brightest-Ever Cosmic Explosion Solved But New Mysteries Sparked

BBC, April 11, 2024

Researchers have discovered the cause of the brightest burst of light ever recorded. But in doing so they have run up against two bigger mysteries, including one that casts doubt on where our heavy elements - like gold - come from.

NASA’s New Hubble E-Book Spotlights Universe’s Best-Kept Dark Secrets

NASA Hubble Team, April 06, 2024

(download links for e-book or pdf are in this article) NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope team has released a new downloadable e-book in the Hubble Focus series, called “Hubble Focus: The Dark Universe.” This e-book highlights the mission’s recent discoveries about two mysterious components of our universe, known as dark energy — an unexplained cosmic pressure that’s speeding up the universe’s expansion — and dark matter, an invisible substance detectable only by seeing how it gravitationally influences visible matter.


Are Flying Cars Finally Here?

New Yorker, April 15, 2024

They have long been a symbol of a future that never came. Now a variety of companies are building them—or something close.

AI Now Beats Humans at Basic Tasks — New Benchmarks Are Needed, Says Major Report

Nature, April 15, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as the chatbot ChatGPT, have become so advanced that they now very nearly match or exceed human performance in tasks including reading comprehension, image classification and competition-level mathematics, according to a new report (see ‘Speedy advances’).

What’s Happening with Proteus – Cousteau’s Underwater Research Station?

Cosmos, April 10, 2024

In July 2020, renowned aquanaut Fabien Cousteau – grandson of the late Jacques Cousteau – announced “Proteus,” an advanced underwater scientific research station and habitat, conceived as the “underwater version of the International Space Station”.

Should We Change Species to Save Them?

New York Times, April 14, 2024

It is an audacious concept, one that challenges a fundamental conservation impulse to preserve wild creatures as they are. But in this human-dominated age...the traditional conservation playbook may no longer be enough, some scientists said.

Where Did My Results Go? Google Search’s Chatbot Is No Longer Opt-In

Ars Technica, March 25, 2024

The search chatbot used to be opt-in, but now Google will try it on normal users.


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.

How Much Protein Everyone Needs Per Day

VeryWell Health, September 21, 2023

Protein is an important part of every diet, especially in increasing or maintaining muscle mass. This article discusses the protein needs for healthy children and adults and the potential effects of a high-protein diet. 

Chilling Out Rather Than Blowing Off Steam Is a Better Way to Manage Anger

The Conversation, March 20, 2024

Some commonly recommended tactics for managing anger, including hitting a punching bag, jogging and cycling, aren’t effective at helping people cool off.

Physical Activity Reduces Stress-Related Brain Activity to Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk

EurekAlert!, April 15, 2024

Results from a new study indicate that physical activity may help protect against cardiovascular disease in part by reducing stress-related brain activity.

Are Probiotics All They’re Cracked Up to Be?

Tufts Now, April 16, 2024

They’re often represented as a remedy for many different ailments, but experts across Tufts say probiotics have a few important caveats consumers should know.


Male Bonobos, Close Human Relatives Long Thought to Be Peaceful, Are Actually Quite Aggressive, Study Suggests

Smithsonian, April 15 2024

The new research found bonobos were three times more likely than chimpanzees to commit an act of physical aggression.

Antarctica Is Covered in Volcanoes, Could They Erupt?

Live Science, April 07, 2024

Antarctica is perhaps best known for its endless expanse of ice and snow. But what many people don't realize is that hiding beneath its frosty facade are dozens of volcanoes.

Hidden Power of Plants and Their Impact on Regional Climate and Ecosystems

Earth, April 16, 2024

In a fascinating study that sheds light on the intricate relationship between plants and the climate, researchers have discovered that ecosystems can have a significant impact on the world’s climate.

Ancient Human Evolution Is “Unparalleled” in Nature

Cosmos, April 17, 2024

Interspecies competition in ancient humans saw an evolutionary trend that is the complete opposite of almost all other vertebrates, according to a new study.

What is Earth Day, When Is It and What Has It Achieved?

BBC, April 18, 2024

Earth Day takes place every year on 22 April. It is a global event which aims to highlight the importance of protecting the environment. It was set up in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a US senator and environmentalist, and Denis Hayes, a graduate student at Harvard University.


Global Coral Bleaching Now Underway Looks Set to Be Largest On Record

Mongabay, April 18, 2024

Scientists say that coral reefs are currently undergoing a global bleaching event, with more than 54% of the world’s coral reef areas in the territorial waters of over 50 countries experiencing heat stress.

Trump Appointees Barred EPA Staff from Warning Senate About ‘Forever Chemical’ Loophole: Internal Staff Messages

The Hill, April 09, 2024

Trump administration officials barred experts from warning legislators that they were about to write a major environmental loophole into law, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staffers alleged in newly revealed internal communications. 

Kale, Watermelon and Even Some Organic Foods Pose High Pesticide Risk, Analysis Finds

The Guardian, April 18, 2024

A new analysis by Consumer Reports shows that pesticides have contaminated the US fruit and vegetable supply – even some organics.

FDA’s Current BPA Safety Standards Are Outdated, Misguided and Flawed, Scientists Say

Environmental Health News, April 12, 2024

Although the science on endocrine disruption is well-established, the FDA ignores those principles as well as thousands of studies that clearly show the human health impacts of BPA. Existing standards also ignore BPA’s ability to affect health at low levels of exposure, because the FDA relies on disproven methods to determine toxicity.

Earlier Springs Have Cascading Effects on Animals, Plants and Pastimes

Inside Climate News, March 19, 2024

A growing body of research shows that climate change is throwing the seasons out of whack.


The Numbers on Climate Tell Us We’re Not Moving Fast Enough

Common Dreams, April 12, 2024 (Bill McKibben)

Speeding up the necessary transition to renewable energy requires political mobilization to break the power of the fossil fuel industry.

European Court Rules Human Rights Violated by Climate Inaction

BBC, April 09, 2024

It is the first time the powerful court has ruled on global warming. Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg joined activists celebrating at the court in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

With States Leading on Climate Policy, New Tools Peer Into Lobbying ‘Black Box’

Inside Climate News, April 02, 2024

Separate efforts by Brown University researchers and OpenSecrets allow searches of who’s influencing state lawmakers. Less than half of states make lobbying information accessible for analysis

How Climate Change Is Driving a Global Epidemic of Immune Health Problems, And How to Stop It

STAT, April 04, 2024

There is also strong evidence, at both the biological and the epidemiological levels, that the environment plays a crucial role in the rise of immune-mediated diseases.

How to Spot Five of the Fossil Fuel Industry’s Biggest Disinformation Tactics

The Guardian, April 14, 2024

Increasingly sophisticated and better-funded disinformation is making climate coverage trickier both for journalists to produce and for the public to fully understand and trust.

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