Latest Science News


Welcome to the”Latest Science News” update from Hawaii Science Digest.

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Accessed on 16 December 2019, 0155 UTC.

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Beyond Physicalism

Philosopher Hedda Hassel Mørch defends the idea that consciousness pervades the cosmos — Read more on
Alligators Don’t Play Pick Up Sticks to Lure Lunch

A new study casts doubt over the suggestion that alligators use sticks to catch birds — Read more on
The Bayes Appreciation Society

Sophie Carr shares her love for a fundamental theorem about probability — Read more on
SpaceX to Make Starlink Satellites Dimmer to Lessen Impact on Astronomy

Future batches of the satellite will have a special coating to reduce their reflectivity — Read more on
Newly Identified Jet-Stream Pattern Could Imperil Global Food Supplies

A new study finds a 20-fold increase in the risk of simultaneous heat waves in major crop-producing regions when the pattern is in place — Read more on
To Combat Climate Change, See the Forest for the Trees

As the world scrambles to combat deforestation, experts warn our efforts could have far fewer benefits than we think — Read more on


Can We Reverse the Brain Damage That Drug Use Causes?

Drugs can cause permanent harm to the brain. We’re only beginning to find ways to heal the hurt.
Scientists Find Even More Galaxies in the Universe Without Any Dark Matter

The new research may have dramatic implications for theories about both dark matter and galaxy formation.
Discover’s Science Images of the Year 2019

The first-ever image of a black hole, face-to-face with an ancient ancestor and more.
Astronomers Just Mapped a Pulsar’s Surface for the First Time

NASA’s NICER instrument reveals that neutron stars are not as simple as we thought.
NASA Probe Spots Source of the Geminid Meteor Shower

Astronomers have long suspected debris from the asteroid Phaethon causes the annual meteor shower. Now, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has captured the stream of space debris where the shower originates.
Boston Could Become WICKED Hot. This is What They’re Doing About it.

Over the past year, the people of Boston have banded together to address extreme temperatures in their city.


NYU Abu Dhabi researcher discovers exoplanets can be made less habitable by stars’ flares

In this new study, NYUAD Center for Space Science Research Scientist Dimitra Atri found that not all exoplanets in habitable zones will be able to maintain hospitable conditions for life. Exoplanets in close proximity to stars are subject to radiation bursts which can disrupt habitable conditions unless the exoplanet has significant atmospheric or magnetic shielding.
Air pollution is breaking our hearts: Human and marine health is affected in similar ways

Research published today in The Journal of Physiology by researchers at The University of Manchester shows that the knowledge we have about how pollution harms the hearts of marine species can be applied to humans, as the underlying mechanisms are similar.
Smaller class sizes not always better for pupils, multinational study shows

A new statistical analysis of data from a long-term study on the teaching of mathematics and science has found that smaller class sizes are not always associated with better pupil performance and achievement.
More than 1 in 3 low- and middle-income countries face both extremes of malnutrition

Being undernourished or overweight are no longer separate public health issues. The first paper in a four-paper report to be published in The Lancet details how more than one in three low- and middle-income countries face both extremes of malnutrition — a reality driven by the modern food system.
The Lancet: More than one in three low- and middle-income countries face both extremes of malnutrition

A new approach is needed to help reduce undernutrition and obesity at the same time, as the issues become increasingly connected due to rapid changes in countries’ food systems. This is especially important in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new four-paper report published in The Lancet.
City College leads new photonics breakthrough

A new approach to trapping light in artificial photonic materials by a City College of New York-led team could lead to a tremendous boost in the transfer speed of data online.


Google’s quantum supremacy algorithm has found its first practical use

Google has put the algorithm it used to achieve quantum supremacy to work. It generated verifiably random numbers, which could be used one day in encryption or lotteries
Quantum computer sets new record for finding prime number factors

A relatively small quantum computer has broken a number-factoring record, which may one day threaten data encryption methods that rely on factoring large numbers
Time travel without paradoxes is possible with many parallel timelines

Time travel brings up paradoxes that break the laws of physics, but multiple similar timelines running parallel to one another could get around this
‘Grazing fireball’ skimmed Earth’s atmosphere then went back to space

A space rock seen in July 2017 passed through Earth’s atmosphere and back out the other side in a rare event known as a grazing fireball
Airbus to test flying planes closer together to cut carbon emissions

Plane manufacturer Airbus is working with airlines to test a fuel-reduction scheme inspired by the v-formation used by geese
Hubble Space Telescope snaps best view of interstellar comet Borisov

The interstellar comet Borisov is making its closest approach to the sun and Earth, giving astronomers their best look yet


Nanoscience breakthrough: Probing particles smaller than a billionth of a meter

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a new methodology that allows researchers to assess the chemical composition and structure of metallic particles with a diameter of only 0.5 to 2 nm. This breakthrough in analytical techniques will enable the development and application of minuscule materials in the fields of electronics, biomedicine, chemistry, and more.
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon up by more than double: data

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon in November surged by 104 percent compared to the same month in 2018, according to official data released Saturday.
Smog forces schools shut in Iran

Air pollution forced schools to close on Sunday in parts of Iran including Tehran, as the capital lay under a thick cloud of smog considered hazardous to health.
Anger, relief but no joy as UN climate talks limp to an end

A marathon UN summit wrapped up Sunday with little to show, squeezing hard-earned compromises from countries over a global warming battle plan that fell well short of what science says is needed to tackle the climate crisis.
How Madrid talks fell short on climate ambition

This year’s U.N. climate negotiations in Madrid, the longest in 25 nearly annual such gatherings, ended Sunday with major polluters resisting calls to ramp up efforts to keep global warming at bay.


Get to know the very charismatic penis fish invading a California beach

View this post on Instagram SHOOK 😳 Thousands of these marine worms—called fat innkeeper worms, or “penis fish”—were found on Drake’s Beach last week! These phallic organisms are quite common along the West coast of North America, but they spend their whole lives in U-shaped burrows under the sand, so few beachgoers are aware of their existence. ⛈🌊 A recent storm in Northern California brought
Turn your phone into a PC with Samsung DeX

Some phones want to be tablets, but the newer Samsung Galaxy devices dream big: they want to be laptops. (Mark Chan via Unsplash/) If you own one of the higher-end Samsung Galaxy phones or tablets, you’ve also got access to Samsung DeX. This feature essentially lets you use your phone to drive a second, larger display, and since it also works with a keyboard and mouse, you’ll get a PC-like experi
Meteorite-eating microbes could help us look for alien life

One organism’s space rock is another organism’s nosh. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/) What might alien life look like, and what traces would it leave behind? If extraterrestrial plant and plankton analogs fill their planet’s atmosphere with oxygen, or an advanced civilization fills its skies with satellites , we might be able to spot such global upheavals from Earth. But if life elsewhere is small and limite
Here’s what we know about the next Xbox console coming in 2020

Last night, Microsoft announced some official details about the new Xbox that will debut next year. It’s called the Xbox One Series X —seriously, that’s what it’s called—and it’s the next step in the computing power war the company is waging with Sony. We don’t have all of the details about Series X just yet—we’ll gradually learn all about it before it hits the market by holiday of 2020. We do kn
The truth about activated charcoal in beauty products

That charcoal face mask isn’t doing anything a regular face mask wouldn’t In the past few years, activated charcoal has become a common ingredient in over-the-counter beauty and health products—not to mention it’s also made an appearance in coffee, ice cream, and cookies, among other things, turning them all an elegant black. In particular, the substance has recently become a popular component in
Countertop convection ovens that will complete your kitchen

More ways to cook in one appliance. (Amazon/) Countertop convection ovens are more energy-efficient than full-size ovens and cook food more evenly in a fraction of the time. That’s because these appliances use a series of fans to constantly circulate hot air around food, rather than cooking it in a stagnant heat. The capacity and special features vary, but in general, countertop convection ovens


Perinatal exposure to flame retardant alters epigenome, predisposing metabolic disease

A new study showed that environmentally relevant exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), a brominated flame retardant, through the umbilical cord and breast milk permanently changed liver metabolism in rats.
Nurses sleep less before a scheduled shift, hindering patient care and safety

Nurses sleep nearly an hour and a half less before work days compared to days off, which hurts patient care and safety, finds a new study.
Conscious visual perception occurs outside the visual system

A new study finds that the conscious perception of visual location occurs in the frontal lobes of the brain, rather than in the visual system in the back of the brain. The results are significant given the ongoing debate among neuroscientists on what consciousness is and where it happens in the brain.
Bone bandage soaks up pro-healing biochemical to accelerate repair

Researchers have engineered a patch or bandage that captures a pro-healing molecule called adenosine that briefly surges at the site of a bone break or fracture to accelerate and improve the natural healing process. In a proof-of-principle study with mice, the bandage helped to accelerate callus formation and vascularization to achieve better bone repair by three weeks.
Breakthrough in Zika virus vaccine

Researchers have made significant advances in developing a novel vaccine against Zika virus, which could potentially lead to global elimination of the disease.
Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change

The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats. They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and growing into adults, new research shows.


Mathematician Terence Tao Cracks a ‘Dangerous’ Problem

Tao has made huge progress on the Collatz conjecture, a simple-seeming puzzle that has bedeviled hapless mathematicians for decades.
Bing Maps Make the Revived *Flight Simulator* Eerily Realistic

The 3D mapping, along with data and technical guidance from avionics manufacturers, make Microsoft’s long-loved flying program more than just a game.
The Chrome Browser Settings You Should Tweak Right Now

Get the most out of Google’s Chrome browser with these tips and tricks.
5G Is More Secure Than 4G and 3G—Except When It’s Not

The next-generation wireless networks make it harder to track and spoof users, but security holes remain because devices still connect to older networks.
Chrome Will Automatically Scan Your Passwords Against Data Breaches

Google’s Password Checkup feature will be fully integrated into the desktop and mobile versions of Chrome 79.
The Word ‘They’ Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

It marks an important moment of recognition for a lot of people.
For the latest trends in science, technology, medicine, health, the environment, cyber security, and artificial intelligence, please check the blog sidebars and links.  These news feeds are updated daily. Thanks for joining us today.
Until next time,
Russ Roberts (breaking science and technology news).

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