Friday, November 13, 2020

science news 13.11.2020

Today's selection of science news. Links are normally to press releases on EurekAlert (at the bottom end I may also add a couple of newspaper stories). I include quotes from the summary in italics in cases where the title alone doesn't reveal what the story is about. My own thoughts appear without italics if I have any.

astrobiology

Escape from Mars: how water fled the red planet

Cysteine synthesis was a key step in the origin of life
All proteins are built from the same 20 amino acids. One of these, cysteine, was assumed not to have been present at the origin of life. In a new study, published in Science, UCL scientists have recreated how cysteine was formed at the origins of life. Additionally, they have observed how, once formed, cysteine catalyses the fusion of peptides in water - a fundamental step in the path towards protein enzymes.

earth

Possible 1,000-kilometer-long river running deep below Greenland's ice sheet

evolution

San Diego zoo global biobanking advances wildlife conservation and human medicine worldwide
In a study that has unprecedented implications to advance both medicine and biodiversity conservation, researchers have sequenced 131 new placental mammal genomes, bringing the worldwide total to more than 250. The results of the mammal genome project, published in the Nov. 12 issue of the journal Nature, catalog and characterize whole branches of Earth's biodiversity, spanning approximately 110 million years of mammal evolution--the largest and most diverse mammalian comparative genomics project to date.

ecology

In a warming climate, can birds take the heat?

In a new University of Illinois study, tropical birds such as the cocoa woodcreeper (pictured) showed less acute heat stress when exposed to high temperatures than expected.
Credit: Henry Pollock, University of Illinois

nanoworld

Smaller than ever--exploring the unusual properties of quantum-sized materials
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) synthesize sub-nanometer particles with precisely controlled proportions of indium and tin using specific macromolecular templates called dendrimers. Through a screening process spanning different metallic ratios, they discovered unusual electronic states and optical properties originating from size-miniaturization and elemental-hybridization. Their approach could be a first step in the development of sub-nanoparticles with unique functionalities and characteristics for electronic, magnetic, and catalytic applications.

biomedical

Chemists studied the composition of oils extracted from popular medicinal plants

sustainability

Environmentally friendly method could lower costs to recycle lithium-ion batteries
A new process for restoring spent cathodes to mint condition could make it more economical to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The process, developed by nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego, is more environmentally friendly than today's methods; it uses greener ingredients, consumes 80 to 90% less energy, and emits about 75% less greenhouse gases.

Special issue: Cooling in a Warming World < > In this special issue of Science, Cooling in a Warming World, three Perspectives and three Reviews highlight the wide array of new and improved technologies and solutions that aim to keep us and the materials we rely on cool, in our rapidly warming planet.

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From the news media:



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