Top Science Stories of the Week 09/23/2019


Welcome to the “Top Science Stories of the Week” from Hawaii Science Digest.

Views expressed in this science and technology news summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.

Content supplied by,,,,,, and

Accessed on 24 September 2019, 0155 UTC.


My personal sci-tech subscriptions via

Please scroll down to read your selections.


Are We at a Climate Change Turning Point? Obama’s EPA Chief Thinks So

Gina McCarthy talks about the intersection of climate and health and the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks — Read more on
As Major Summit Convenes, U.N. Secretary-General Has Hope on Averting Warming

The summit begins just as new data show 2014–2019 was the warmest five-year period on record — Read more on
No, the Exoplanet K2-18b Is Not Habitable

News outlets that said otherwise are just crying wolf—but they’re not the only ones at fault — Read more on
Women in Cybersecurity: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Here’s how to bring gender equality to a thoroughly male-dominated field — Read more on
Amazon Workers Win Climate Dispute, But It Is “Not Enough”

The global retailer has pledged reduce its emissions and fund reforestation efforts — Read more on


Archaeologists Find Evidence for a Biblical Siege of Jerusalem

A model of ancient Jerusalem. (Credit: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr) (Inside Science) — In the 6th century B.C., the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, fearful that the Egyptians would cut off the Babylonian trade routes to the eastern Mediterranean region known as the Levant, invaded and laid siege to Jerusalem to block them. His army destroyed the temple the Hebrew king Solomon built there, and forced
Electrostimulation Study Gets Alzheimer’s Patients to Recall Vivid Memories

Participants in a recent trial experienced old memories, vividly. Halfpoint/ Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most dreaded diagnoses, and the fear is particularly acute among older people. This complex brain disorder, which usually affects older individuals, can cause many cognitive disabilities, most notably memory impairment. About 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer
Why Do Women Get Alzheimer’s More Than Men?

MRI scans of patients show patients with Alzheimer’s disease. (Credit: Atthapon Raksthaput/Shutterstock) Scientists are still unraveling why Alzheimer’s disease affects men and women disproportionately. Out of the five million Americans who have it, about 64 percent are women. Once in their 60s, women are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than breast cancer, and more than twice as likely to d


Cats, like children and dogs, develop attachments to their caregivers, study shows

Pet cats form attachments with their human owners that are similar to the bonds formed by children and dogs with their caretakers.
New CRISPR class expands genetic engineering toolbox

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have used a previously unexplored CRISPR technology to accurately regulate and edit target genes in human cells. With this new approach, the researchers hope to dramatically expand the CRISPR-based tools available to biomedical engineers, opening up a new and diverse frontier of genome engineering technologies.
Cats are securely bonded to their people, too

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and independent. But a study of the way domestic cats respond to their caregivers suggests that their socio-cognitive abilities and the depth of their human attachments have been underestimated. The findings reported in the journal Current Biology on Sept. 23 show that, much like children and dogs, pet cats form secure and insecure bonds with their human care
One species, many origins

In a paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, a group of researchers argue that our evolutionary past must be understood as the outcome of dynamic changes in connectivity, or gene flow, between early humans scattered across Africa. Viewing past human populations as a succession of discrete branches on an evolutionary tree may be misleading, they said, because it reduces the human story to
Study finds onion and garlic consumption may reduce breast cancer risk

In the first population-based study to examine the association between onion and garlic consumption and breast cancer in Puerto Rico, UB and University of Puerto Rico researchers found that women who ate sofrito more than once per day had a 67% decreased breast cancer risk.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke at higher risk for atrial fibrillation

Children of parents who smoke had a significantly increased chance of developing atrial fibrillation later in life, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The findings highlight a new association between secondhand smoke exposure and heart rhythm disorder risk.


Google claims it has finally reached quantum supremacy

Has Google achieved quantum supremacy? The firm says its quantum chip can perform a calculation that is practically impossible for our best supercomputer
Greta Thunberg: You have stolen my childhood with your empty words

World leaders are at a UN summit in New York to discuss more ambitious plans to curb carbon emissions just days after the biggest ever climate change protest
Hypersexual disorder linked to genes that regulate love hormone

People with excessive sexual fantasies and urges have different gene expressions that seem to affect how the “love hormone” oxytocin is regulated
UK families in buyers club fly to Argentina for cystic fibrosis drugs

The NHS in England won’t provide a new treatment for cystic fibrosis, so families have formed a buyers club and travelled to South America to buy a version
Weird galaxies suggest our best understanding of the cosmos is wrong

We have found two weird galaxies that either have no dark matter or are travelling insanely fast. Our best models of the cosmos can’t explain how they exist
AI is learning to diagnose schizophrenia from a smartphone video

An app that analyses facial expressions and speech may be able to diagnose schizophrenia


DNA is held together by hydrophobic forces

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have disproved the prevailing theory of how DNA binds itself. It is not, as is generally believed, hydrogen bonds which bind together the two sides of the DNA structure. Instead, water is the key. The discovery opens doors for new understanding in research in medicine and life sciences. The findings are published in PNAS.
Graphene is 3-D as well as 2-D

Graphene is actually a 3-D material as well as a 2-D material, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London.
Theory proposes that LIGO/Virgo black holes originate from a first order phase transition

A few years ago, the LIGO/Virgo collaboration detected gravitational waves arising from a binary black hole merger using the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). This eventually led to the observation of black holes with masses that are roughly 30 times the mass of the sun. Since then, researchers worldwide have been investigating these black holes, spec
Climate experts say they hear talk at UN but not much action

Leader after leader told the United Nations on Monday that they will do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels. But as they made their pledges at the Climate Action Summit, they and others conceded it was not enough.
Is theory on earth’s climate in the last 15 million years wrong?

A key theory that attributes the climate evolution of the Earth to the breakdown of Himalayan rocks may not explain the cooling over the past 15 million years, according to a Rutgers-led study.
Croc-like carnivores terrorized Triassic dinosaurs in southern Africa 210 million years ago

Giant, predatory croc-like animals that lived during the Triassic period in southern Africa preyed on early dinosaurs and mammal relatives 210 million years ago. These predators, known as “rauisuchians” preyed on early herbivore dinosaurs and their mammal relatives living at the time, according to Wits Masters student Rick Tolchard.


Fat-shaming only makes the obesity epidemic worse

Feeling ashamed of your weight doesn’t make you healthier. (Unsplash/) Roughly 70 percent of American adults are considered overweight or obese by BMI standards , yet a 2016 Gallup poll found only 37 percent actually realize it. Stats like these have inspired many pundits and armchair physicians (and more than a few actual physicians) to suggest we should, as a society, make fat people more aware
182,000 Indians clean sewers largely by hand. These robots could help.

In India, discrimination among social classes, or castes, forces those with lesser means to take dangerous, reviled jobs such as sewer cleaning. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images/) The Indian government defines a “manual scavenger” as a person who physically carries human excreta. Often without safety gear—no helmets, masks, or gloves—these workers plumb the manholes of Mumbai, waist-deep in grey
Despite appearances, your cat does love you

This is the first study to look at cat attachment by looking at bonding styles, the same way researchers study dogs and human babies. (Pixabay/) Cats can seem mysterious and aloof. They stare at nothing for hours on end and have very specific petting requirements . These and similarly strange behaviors have baffled and amused long-suffering human companions since they sailed with the Vikings (and
Make every photo a potential profile pic by learning how to pose

Once you know how to pose, you won’t even need colors. (Harry Guinness/) In an era when most people carry a camera in their pockets, and a large amount of the pictures taken of us will eventually be posted on the internet forever, posing properly for a photo is an important skill everyone should have. You don’t have to look like a runway model, you just have to make sure you portray yourself in a
‘Hormone diets’ might work—but not for the reason you think

There’s currently no peer-reviewed research published in any major scientific journals backing up the hormone diet’s claims. (Shutterstock/Gts/) When it comes to losing weight and getting healthy, there never seems to be a shortage of diet and fitness crazes claiming to hold the secret to easy, sustainable weight loss. Some of the most recent popular diet crazes include the ketogenic diet (low ca
6 tasks you can easily outsource online

Maybe don’t hire this person, though—that planner shows they’re still working on stuff from four years ago. (Avel Chuklanov via Unsplash/) There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and if that’s a feeling you experience often, you’ve got two options: Somehow warp space and time to extend each day beyond 24 hours, or delegate out some of your most time-consuming and energy-draining tasks. W


Machu Picchu: Ancient Incan sanctuary intentionally built on faults

The ancient Incan sanctuary of Machu Picchu is considered one of humanity’s greatest architectural achievements. Built in a remote Andean setting atop a narrow ridge high above a precipitous river canyon, the site is renowned for its perfect integration with the spectacular landscape. But the sanctuary’s location has long puzzled scientists: Why did the Incas build their masterpiece in such an ina
Cats are securely bonded to their people, too

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and independent. But a study of the way domestic cats respond to their caregivers suggests that their socio-cognitive abilities and the depth of their human attachments have been underestimated. The findings show that, much like children and dogs, pet cats form secure and insecure bonds with their human caretakers.
A new way to turn heat into useful energy

Scientists have figured out how to capture heat and turn it into electricity. The discovery could create more efficient energy generation from heat in things like car exhaust, interplanetary space probes and industrial processes.
Did mosasaurs do the breast stroke?

Mosasaurs were true sea monsters of late Cretaceous seas. These marine lizards — related to modern snakes and monitor lizards — grew as long as fifty feet, flashed two rows of sharp teeth, and shredded their victims with enormous, powerful jaws.
For young athletes, sport specialization means increased risk of injury

Specialization in a chosen sport is associated with a higher volume of activity — and it could increase young athletes’ risk of sustaining both traumatic- and overuse-based injuries, new study says.
When it comes to robots, reliability may matter more than reasoning

What does it take for a human to trust a robot? That is what researchers are uncovering in a new study into how humans and robots work together. Research into human-agent teaming, or HAT, has examined how the
For the latest trends in science, technology, medicine, health, the environment, cyber security, and artificial intelligence, please visit this blog daily.  Thanks for joining us today.
Until next time,
Russ Roberts (breaking science and technology news).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: