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Stephen Hawking, The Big Bang And The Birth Of Time

Hawking’s fascination was with cosmology, the science which deals with the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe. Einstein - never one to think small - had in 1917 applied his theory of gravity to the biggest gravitating system he could imagine: the whole Universe. Like Isaac Newton before him, he was wedded to the idea of a “static” universe, in which the stars and galaxies hung in space, unchanging, for all time. He therefore missed the message in…

Scientists Make Exciting Dinosaur Footprint Discovery On The Isle Of Skye

Scientists have discovered dozens of giant dinosaur footprints on the Scottish island of Skye that could help shed light on how dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex came into existence. The 170 million-year-old footprints were found in a muddy lagoon just off the north-east coast of the Isle of Skye. JON HOAD Most of what was found came from two types of dinosaur, the first being a theropod which at two metres tall would have been a distant cousin of the T. rex.…

MIT’s Wearable Headset Can Hear The Words You Say In Your Head

The idea of humans being able to read each other’s minds has almost exclusively been the domain of science fiction and fantasy, and yet in reality we’re closer than you might think. MIT researchers have created a wearable headset that when worn can actually hear the words you vocalise in your head. That’s right. The headset works by measuring the tiny neuromuscular signals that we create when we say words in our heads. They are completely imperceptible to the human eye,…

Watch Virgin Galactic’s New SpaceShipTwo Go Supersonic

VIRGIN GALACTIC has released footage showing the first successful powered test of its new SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity. Designed for tourists who want to head into space, the spacecraft can be seen in mid-rocket burn as it goes supersonic. While not technically entering space, the craft did reach an impressive altitude of over 80,000ft before cruising back down to ground and landing at Virgin Galactic’s base of operations. VIRGIN GALACTIC This was the first successful powered test of Virgin Galactic’s new…

We Can Now Trap Poachers Using A Technique Designed To Detect Distant Stars

The same technology that’s used to spot the most distant stars in our universe could soon be used to trap poachers here on Earth. The system uses a combination of flying drones, infrared thermal imaging and advanced AI to monitor animals at night when the majority of poaching occurs. Incredibly the team behind the technique have already seen success in South Africa where an early field trial was able to detect the elusive riverine rabbit, one of the most endangered mammals…

Neuroscientists Demonstrate Integration of Plasticity Mechanisms within a Single Sensory Neuron

An individual neuronal cell of the worm C. elegans (captured through the visualization of calcium dynamics using the calcium sensor GCAMP6). Imaging of single neurons in the brains of behaving animals, like in this photo, allowed Yale researchers to reconstruct how single neurons change based on experience, and how their plasticity mechanisms then compute sensory information to actuate a memory. The nervous system has the capacity to change based on experience. This plasticity is thought to underpin the formation and…

MIT Develops Ultrafine High Performance Polyethylene Fibers

New ultra-fine fibers created by the MIT team are seen in a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image. Researchers at MIT have developed a process that can produce ultrafine fibers — whose diameter is measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter — that are exceptionally strong and tough. These fibers, which should be inexpensive and easy to produce, could be choice materials for many applications, such as protective armor and nanocomposites. The new process, called gel electrospinning, is described in a paper…

Two New NASA Missions Team Up To Explore Earth’s Ionosphere

Charged particles in Earth’s atmosphere, which make up the ionosphere, create bands of color above Earth’s surface, known as airglow. ICON, depicted in this artist’s concept, will study the ionosphere from a height of about 350 miles to understand how the combined effects of terrestrial weather and space weather influence this ionized layer of particles. Credit: NASA Goddard’s Conceptual Image Lab/B. Monroe Like Earth, space has weather. Except instead of swirling winds and downpours of precipitation, space weather is defined…

Bio-Based Acrylonitrile Offers a Greener Carbon Fiber Alternative

The catalytic reactor shown here is for converting chemical intermediates into acrylonitrile. The work is part of the Renewable Carbon fiber Consortium. Photo by Dennis Schroeder/NREL From cars and bicycles to airplanes and space shuttles, manufacturers around the world are trying to make these vehicles lighter, which helps lower fuel use and lessen the environmental footprint. One way that cars, bicycles, airplanes and other modes of transportation have become lighter over the last several decades is by using carbon fiber…

Researchers Optimize Nanomaterials for Fuel-Cell Cathodes

Simulations by Rice University scientists show how carbon nanomaterials may be optimized to replace expensive platinum in cathodes for electricity-generating fuel cells for transportation and other applications. Credit: Yakobson Research Group/Rice University New research from Rice University shows that nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes or modified graphene nanoribbons may be suitable replacements for platinum for fast oxygen reduction, the key reaction in fuel cells that transform chemical energy into electricity. The findings are from computer simulations by Rice scientists who set out…

Astronomers Use a Single Gravitational Wave Event to Measure the Age of the Universe

NGC4993, the galaxy hosting the gravitational wave event GW170817 that has been used to measure the age of the universe. The source of the event is the red dot to the upper left of the galaxy’s center; it was not there in earlier images. NASA and ESA The direct detection of gravitational waves from at least five sources during the past two years offers spectacular confirmation of Einstein’s model of gravity and space-time. Modeling of these events has also provided information on…

New Drug Suppresses HIV & Protects Immune Cells With a Single Dose

A team of Yale researchers tested a new chemical compound that suppresses HIV, protects immune cells, and remains effective for weeks with a single dose. In animal experiments, the compound proved to be a promising new candidate to enhance current HIV treatment regimens — without increasing toxic side effects, the researchers said. The finding builds on the work of senior co-authors Karen S. Anderson and William L. Jorgensen, who used computational and structure-based design methods to develop a class of…

Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes Aid Spinal Cord Recovery

In a new study, Yale researchers report the healing effects of stem cells in spinal cord injury can be aided by their ability to hitch intercellular rides to specific anti-inflammatory cells called M2 macrophages. Yale University researchers had previously shown that mesenchymal stem cells harvested from bone marrow helped repair spinal cord injury in rats; however, many of the cells did not reach their target injury site. The study by the Yale team, headed by neuroscientists Jeffery Kocsis and Karen…

Carnegie Mellon’s ‘Superhuman AI’ bests leading Texas Hold’em poker pros

A new paper published by Science today details how Libratus, an AI developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s computer science department, managed to take on and defeat top industry professionals at one of the most challenging forms of poker: No-limit Texas Hold’em. Yes, the same variant of poker that swept the nation during the heady days of the early to mid-aughts. This is significant because no-limit Texas Hold’em is what’s called an “imperfect-information game,” which means that not all information about all…

Open Garden wants to give you tokens for sharing your internet connection

Open Garden launched its mesh networking platform at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2012. Since then, the company has gone through a few iterations and found unexpected success in its Firechat offline messaging service. Now, it’s ready for the next step in its evolution. The company now wants to make it easier for anybody with an Android phone to share their Wi-Fi connections with anyone who is nearby. And to incentivize people to do so, the company plans to launch its own Ethereum token (called OG…)…

Traumatic Brain Injury Causes Intestinal Damage

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers have found a two-way link between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and intestinal changes. These interactions may contribute to increased infections in these patients, and may also worsen chronic brain damage. This is the first study to find that TBI in mice can trigger delayed, long-term changes in the colon and that subsequent bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal system can increase posttraumatic brain inflammation and associated tissue loss. The findings were published recently…