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News in Short

News in Short - 20-January-2020

SpaceX to emulate astronaut ejection test

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Space
  • SpaceX will simulate its emergency abort system on an unmanned spacecraft, the last major test before it plans to send NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
  • This test will check the capsule's ability to reliably carry crew to safety in the event of an emergency on ascent.
  • The success of this test is essential for SpaceX and for NASA, which urgently needs to certify a spacecraft to transport its astronauts to the ISS this year.

The blob: Marine heatwave that killed seabirds

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Biodiversity
  • Approximately one million seabirds on the west coast of the U.S. died due to an unprecedented marine heatwave in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Known as “the blob”, the heatwave caused sea surface temperatures along the Pacific coast of North America to rise by 1-2°C. 
  • The fish that common guillemots normally eat, such as herring, sardine and anchovy, either died or moved into cooler waters elsewhere, leaving the guillemots with little to eat. As a result, many birds starved.
  • The appearance of unusually high numbers of dead birds washed up on the shoreline is referred to as a “wreck”. 

Key element in Earth’s origin decoded

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Space
  • Researchers have discovered a key piece of the puzzle about the origin of life on the Earth with the discovery of how phosphorus-bearing molecules, essential for cell metabolism, may have reached the planet from space.
  • Astronomersused data from the ROSINA instrument on board the Rosetta spacecraft to show that the chemical phosphorus monoxide is a key piece in the origin-of-life puzzle.
  • The studyalso used data acquired by a network of 66 radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile called the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (ALMA).
  • The finding of phosphorus on comets helped astronomers draw the first connection between star-forming regions in space, where phosphorous molecules are created and how these are transported all the way to the Earth.

Self healing living concrete

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • Scientists at the University of Coloradohave created a "living concrete", teeming with photosynthetic bacteria, that can grow itself and regenerate itself much like a living organism.
  • The concrete is a mixture of gelatin, sand, and cyanobacteria that cools similarly to Jell-O.
  • The resulting structure was able to regenerate itself three times after researchers cut it apart, suggesting a potential breakthrough in the nascent field of self-assembling materials.

Heartbeat and sleep data can predict flu outbreak

Date: 20 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous
  • A study has found that heart rate and sleep data from wearable fitness tracker watches can predict and alert public health officials to real-time outbreaks of flu more accurately than current surveillance methods.
  • The  World Health Organization estimates that as many as 6,50,000 people worldwide die of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year.
  • Traditional surveillance reporting takes up to three weeks, meaning response measures such as deploying vaccines or anti-virals and advising patients to stay at home  can often lag.