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Birds set foot near South Pole in Early Cretaceous, Australian tracks show

The discovery of 27 avian footprints on the southern Australia coast — dating back to the Early Cretaceous when Australia was still connected to Antarctica — opens another window onto early avian evolution and possible migratory behavior.

Dmytro Vietrov/

Realistic talking faces created from only an audio clip and a person’s photo

A team of researchers has developed a computer program that creates realistic videos that reflect the facial expressions and head movements of the person speaking, only requiring an audio clip and a face photo.   DIverse yet Realistic Facial Animations, or DIRFA, is an artificial intelligence-based program that takes audio and a photo and produces a 3D video showing the person demonstrating realistic and consistent facial animations synchronised with the spoken audio (see videos).

Plants that survived dinosaur extinction pulled nitrogen from air

Ancient cycad lineages that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs may have done so by relying on symbiotic bacteria in their roots to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The finding came from an effort to understand ancient atmospheres, but became an insight into plant evolution instead.

Multiple evolutionary trajectories in aquatic crocodiles

In the geological past, several groups of crocodiles evolved towards a morphology adapted to marine life. However, the extent of these adaptations and their evolutionary trajectories remained unknown. An exhaustive study of their morphology has now shed light on the evolutionary mechanisms at work, thanks to three-dimensional reconstructions.

Climate engineering could slow Antarctic ice loss, study suggests

A study reports that scattering sunlight-reflecting particles in the atmosphere — a theoretical form of climate engineering known as ‘stratospheric aerosol injection’ — has potential to slow rapid ice melt in Western Antarctica.

Scientists 3D-print hair follicles in lab-grown skin

Scientists have 3D-printed hair follicles in human skin tissue cultured in the lab. This marks the first time researchers have used the technology to generate hair follicles, which play an important role in skin healing and function. When it comes to engineering human skin, hair may at first seem superfluous. However, hair follicles are quite important: They produce sweat, helping regulate body temperature, and they contain stem cells that help skin heal. The finding has potential applications in regenerative medicine and drug testing, though engineering skin grafts that grow hair are still several years away.

With unprecedented flares, stellar corpse shows signs of life

After a distant star’s explosive death, an active stellar corpse was the likely source of repeated energetic flares observed over several months — a phenomenon astronomers had never seen before, astronomers report.

Printed robots with bones, ligaments, and tendons

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in printing a robotic hand with bones, ligaments and tendons made of different polymers using a new laser scanning technique. The new technology makes it possible to 3D print special plastics with elastic qualities in one go. This opens up completely new possibilities for the production of soft robotic structures.

Novel C. diff structures are required for infection, offer new therapeutic targets

Newly discovered iron storage ‘ferrosomes’ inside the bacterium C. diff — the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections — are important for infection in an animal model and could offer new targets for antibacterial drugs. They also represent a rare demonstration of a membrane-bound structure inside a pathogenic bacterium, upsetting the biological dogma that bacteria do not contain organelles.

James Webb Space Telescope detects water vapor, sulfur dioxide and sand clouds in the atmosphere of a nearby exoplanet

Astronomers have used recent observations made with the James Webb Space Telescope to study the atmosphere of the nearby exoplanet WASP-107b. Peering deep into the fluffy atmosphere of WASP-107b they discovered not only water vapor and sulfur dioxide, but even silicate sand clouds. These particles reside within a dynamic atmosphere that exhibits vigorous transport of material.

Downloading NASA’s dark matter data from above the clouds

Data from a NASA mission to map dark matter around galaxy clusters has been saved by a new recovery system. The system allowed the retrieval of gigabytes of information, even after communication failed and the balloon-based telescope was damaged in the landing process.

US men die 6 years before women, as life expectancy gap widens

We’ve known for more than a century that women outlive men. But new research shows that, at least in the United States, the gap has been widening for more than a decade.

‘Bouncing’ comets could deliver building blocks for life to exoplanets

How did the molecular building blocks for life end up on Earth? One long-standing theory is that they could have been delivered by comets. Now, researchers have shown how comets could deposit similar building blocks to other planets in the galaxy.

When we feel things that are not there

The discovery of the phantom touch illusion provides insights into human perception and opens up new perspectives for interaction with virtual reality technology.

When we see what others do, our brain sees not what we see, but what we expect

When we engage in social interactions, like shaking hands or having a conversation, our observation of other people’s actions is crucial. But what exactly happens in our brain during this process: how do the different brain regions talk to each other? Researchers provide an intriguing answer: our perception of what others do depends more on what we expect to happen than previously believed.

Galactic ‘lightsabers’: Answering longstanding questions about jets from black holes

The one thing everyone knows about black holes is that absolutely everything nearby gets sucked into them. Almost everything, it turns out. Astrophysicists have now determined conclusively that energy close to the event horizon of black hole M87* is pushing outward, not inward. The researchers have also created a way to test the prediction that black holes lose rotational energy and to establish it’s that energy that produces the incredibly powerful jets.

Earth’s surface water dives deep, transforming core’s outer layer

A new study has revealed that water from the Earth’s surface can penetrate deep into the planet, altering the composition of the outermost region of the metallic liquid core and creating a distinct, thin layer. Illustration of silica crystals coming out from the liquid metal of the Earth’s outer core due to a water-induced chemical reaction.

‘Cooling glass’ blasts building heat into space

Researchers aiming to combat rising global temperatures have developed a new ‘cooling glass’ that can turn down the heat indoors without electricity by drawing on the cold depths of space. The new technology, a microporous glass coating, can lower the temperature of the material beneath it by 3.5 degrees Celsius at noon, and has the potential to reduce a mid-rise apartment building’s yearly carbon emissions by 10 percent.

Some of today’s earthquakes may be aftershocks from quakes in the 1800s

In the 1800s, some of the strongest earthquakes in recorded U.S. history struck North America’s continental interior. Almost two centuries later, the central and eastern United States may still be experiencing aftershocks from those events, a new study finds.

New compound outperforms pain drug by indirectly targeting calcium channels

A compound — one of 27 million screened in a library of potential new drugs — reversed four types of chronic pain in animal studies, according to new research. The small molecule, which binds to an inner region of a calcium channel to indirectly regulate it, outperformed gabapentin without troublesome side effects, providing a promising candidate for treating pain.

This wireless, handheld, non-invasive device detects Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s biomarkers

An international team of researchers has developed a handheld, non-invasive device that can detect biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. The biosensor can also transmit the results wirelessly to a laptop or smartphone. The team tested the device on in vitro samples from patients and showed that it is as accurate as the state of the art method. Ultimately, researchers plan to test saliva and urine samples with the biosensor. The device could be modified to detect biomarkers for other conditions as well. The device relies on electrical rather than chemical detection, which researchers say is easier to implement and more accurate.

Evolution of taste: Early sharks were able to perceive bitter substances

New genetic data show that humans and sharks share bitter taste receptors, even though their evolutionary pathways separated nearly 500 million years ago.

How climate change could be affecting your brain

A new element of the catastrophic impacts of climate change is emerging — how global warming is impacting the human brain.

Cut salt, cut blood pressure

Nearly everyone can lower their blood pressure, even people currently on blood pressure-reducing drugs, by lowering their sodium intake, reports a new study. It found 70-75% of all people, regardless of whether they are already on blood pressure medications or not, are likely to see a reduction in their blood pressure if they lower the sodium in their diet.  Losing one teaspoon of salt a day results in systolic blood pressure decline comparable to effect achieved with drugs.

New research maps 14 potential evolutionary dead ends for humanity and ways to avoid them

Humankind risks getting stuck in 14 evolutionary dead ends, ranging from global climate tipping points to misaligned artificial intelligence, chemical pollution, and accelerating infectious diseases, finds a new major assessment by scientists from multiple different disciplines. To break these trends, humans must become self-aware of our common futures.

No scientific evidence for cognitively advanced behaviors and symbolism by Homo naledi

A new study casts doubt on claims that Homo naledi, a small-brained hominin dating to between 335-241,000 years ago, deliberately buried their dead and produced rock art in Rising Star Cave, South Africa. Recent articles suggested the recent excavations at the Rising Star Cave system provided evidence of at least three burial features, two in the Dinaledi Chamber and a third in the Hill Antechamber cavity. The group of experts have now called for a deeper dig into the science behind the findings.

Tracking down quantum flickering of the vacuum

Absolutely empty — that is how most of us envision the vacuum. Yet, in reality, it is filled with an energetic flickering: the quantum fluctuations. Experts are currently preparing a laser experiment intended to verify these vacuum fluctuations in a novel way, which could potentially provide clues to new laws in physics. A research team has developed a series of proposals designed to help conduct the experiment more effectively — thus increasing the chances of success.

Ground-breaking discovery could pave the way for new therapies to prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke

Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which cholesterol in our diet is absorbed into our cells. This discovery opens up new opportunities for therapeutic intervention to control cholesterol uptake that could complement other therapies and potentially save lives.

Photo-induced superconductivity on a chip

Researchers have shown that a previously demonstrated ability to turn on superconductivity with a laser beam can be integrated on a chip, opening up a route toward opto-electronic applications.

Endangered turtle population under threat as pollution may lead to excess of females being born

Researchers find exposure to heavy metals cadmium and antimony and certain organic contaminants, accumulated by the mother and transferred to her eggs, may cause embryos to be feminized in green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), a species already at risk of extinction from a current lack of male hatchlings.

AI faces look more real than actual human face

White faces generated by artificial intelligence (AI) now appear more real than human faces, according to new research. In the study, more people thought AI-generated white faces were human than the faces of real people. The same wasn’t true for images of people of color.

Second-most distant galaxy discovered using James Webb Space Telescope

The second- and fourth-most distant galaxies ever observed have been discovered in a region of space known as Pandora’s Cluster, or Abell 2744, using data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

New drug-like molecule extends lifespan, ameliorates pathology in worms and boosts function in mammalian muscle cells

Having healthy mitochondria, the organelles that produce energy in all our cells, usually portends a long healthy life whether in humans or in C. elegans, a tiny, short-lived nematode worm often used to study the aging process.  Researchers have identified a new drug-like molecule that keeps mitochondria healthy via mitophagy, a process that removes and recycles damaged mitochondria in multicellular organisms. The compound, dubbed MIC, is a natural compound that extended lifespan in C. elegans, ameliorated pathology in neurodegenerative disease models of C. elegans, and improved mitochondrial function in mouse muscle cells.

Solar-powered device produces clean water and clean fuel at the same time

A floating, solar-powered device that can turn contaminated water or seawater into clean hydrogen fuel and purified water, anywhere in the world, has been developed by researchers.

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