Bits of Venus may be lurking on the moon, scientists suggest

Does Venus host alien life? That’s the big question after a recent study spotted phosphine — a gas with possible biological origins — in the planet’s clouds. We won’t have answers until further investigation, but clues to the planet’s history of habitability could be closer than expected.



NASA created this computer-simulated global view of Venus' northern hemisphere. NASA/JPL


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NASA created this computer-simulated global view of Venus’ northern hemisphere. NASA/JPL

Yale University astronomers Samuel Cabot and Gregory Laughlin said we should look to the moon for a peek into Venus’ past. They explained why in a paper accepted into the Planetary Science Journal this month.

The study suggests “asteroids and comets slamming into Venus may have dislodged as many as 10 billion rocks and sent them into an orbit that intersected with Earth and Earth’s moon,” Yale said in a statement. These impacts were more common billions of years ago, meaning bits of ancient Venus could remain

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Finding a better route to treating social anxiety disorder may lie in another part of the brain, researchers suggest — ScienceDaily

Studies have long suggested that oxytocin — a hormone that can also act as a neurotransmitter — regulates prosocial behavior such as empathy, trust and bonding, which led to its popular labeling as the “love hormone.” Mysteriously, oxytocin has also been shown to play a role in antisocial behaviors and emotions, including reduced cooperation, envy and anxiety. How oxytocin could exert such opposite roles had largely remained a mystery, but a new UC Davis study sheds light on how this may work.

Working with California mice, UC Davis researches showed that the “love hormone” oxytocin can sometimes have antisocial effects depending on where in the brain it is made. (Mark Chappell/UC Riverside)

While most oxytocin is produced in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, some oxytocin is produced in another brain area known as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, or BNST. The BNST is known

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Results suggest retrieval of cellular powerplants via an energy feedback loop sustains communication — ScienceDaily

Our thoughts, feelings, and movements are controlled by billions of neurons talking to each other at trillions of specialized communication points called synapses. In an in-depth study of neurons grown in laboratory petri dishes, National Institutes of Health researchers discovered how the chattiest of some synapses find the energy to support intense conversations thought to underlie learning and memory. Their results, published in Nature Metabolism, suggest that a series of chemical reactions control a feedback loop that senses the need for more energy and replenishes it by recruiting cellular powerplants, called mitochondria, to the synapses. The experiments were performed by researchers in a lab led by Zu-Hang Sheng, Ph.D., at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The team studied synapses that use the neurotransmitter glutamate to communicate. Communication happens when a packet of glutamate is released from presynaptic boutons which are tiny protrusions that stick

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Recent findings suggest the repeated evolution of similar traits in island lizards was not channelled by developmental responses to the environment, as commonly thought — ScienceDaily

Scientists have challenged a popular theory behind the evolution of similar traits in island lizards, in a study published recently in eLife.

The findings in Greater Antillean Anolis lizards provide insights on why creatures often evolve similar physical features independently when living in similar habitats. They suggest that the role of developmental plasticity in shaping adaptive evolution may be less important than commonly thought.

Developmental plasticity refers to how development responds to the environment, in particular the way that an organism’s genetic constitution (or genotype) interacts with its environment during development to produce a particular set of characteristics (or phenotype).

“Anolis lizards that live on all four of the Greater Antillean islands have independently and repeatedly evolved six different body types for maneuvering through their given habitat,” says lead author Nathalie Feiner, Researcher at the Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden. “As a result, they make a great model

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Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is ‘Very Likely to Work,’ Studies Suggest

Scientists developing a compact version of a nuclear fusion reactor have shown in a series of research papers that it should work, renewing hopes that the long-elusive goal of mimicking the way the sun produces energy might be achieved and eventually contribute to the fight against climate change.

Construction of a reactor, called Sparc, which is being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a spinoff company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is expected to begin next spring and take three or four years, the researchers and company officials said.

Although many significant challenges remain, the company said construction would be followed by testing and, if successful, building of a power plant that could use fusion energy to generate electricity, beginning in the next decade.

This ambitious timetable is far faster than that of the world’s largest fusion-power project, a multinational effort in Southern France called ITER, for International

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Researchers suggest providing mental health services to those with the greatest need — ScienceDaily

Experiencing multiple stressors triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic — such as unemployment — and COVID-19-related media consumption are directly linked to rising acute stress and depressive symptoms across the U.S., according to a groundbreaking University of California, Irvine study.

The report appears in Science Advances, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The pandemic is not hitting all communities equally,” said lead author E. Alison Holman, UCI professor of nursing. “People have lost wages, jobs and loved ones with record speed. Individuals living with chronic mental and physical illness are struggling; young people are struggling; poor communities are struggling. Mental health services need to be tailored to those most in need right now.”

In addition, the research highlights the connection between mental health and exposure to media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting the need to step away from the television, computer or smartphone to protect

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Prepare for the ‘iPhone 12 mini,’ suggest recent leaks

We’re expecting Apple to announce four new iPhones later this year, and signs and portents increasingly suggest that the smallest will be named the iPhone 12 mini — a title new to the iPhone range but with a solid Apple heritage. Past and present mini Apple products include the iPod mini, iPad mini, and Mac mini. So it might be time for a mini iPhone, too.

The name was mentioned earlier this week by established leaker @L0vetodream, who suggested that the four new iPhones would be called the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Now another leaker, @duanrui1205, has shared images showing Apple’s “silicone case stickers,” complete with names and hand-labeled screen sizes. They match previous rumors for sizes and specs, with the line-up as follows:

  • Apple iPhone 12 mini — 5.4-inch screen
  • Apple iPhone 12 — 6.1-inch screen (the same
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