physorg.com:Spotlight stories

Pair of massive baby stars swaddled in salty water vapor Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers spotted a pair of massive baby stars growing in salty cosmic soup. Each star is shrouded by a gaseous disk which includes molecules of sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, and heated water vapor. Analyzing the radio emissions from the salt and water, the team found that the disks are counter rotating. This is the second detection of salt around massive young stars, promising that salt is an excellent marker to explore the immediate surroundings of giant baby stars.
The surprising organisation of avian brains Birds and mammals have the largest brains in relation to their body. Apart from that, however, they have little in common, according to scientific opinion since the 19th century: mammalian brains have a neocortex, i.e. a cerebral cortex that's made up of six layers and arranged in columns perpendicular to these layers. Avian brains, on the other hand, look like clumps of gray cells.
Wolves have been caring for the pack for at least 1.3 million years Wolves today live and hunt in packs, which helps them take down large prey. But when did this group behavior evolve? An international research team has reported specimens of an ancestral wolf, Canis chihliensis, from the Ice Age of north China (~1.3 million years ago), with debilitating injuries to the jaws and leg. The wolf survived these injuries long enough to heal, supporting the likelihood of food-sharing and family care in this early canine.
Potential drug target for dangerous E. coli infections identified Escherichia coli, known as E. coli, are bacteria which many people associate with causing mild food poisoning, but some types of E. coli can be fatal.
Marine heatwaves are human-made Heatwaves in the world's oceans have become over 20 times more frequent due to human influence. This is what researchers from the Oeschger Center for Climate Research at the University of Bern are now able to prove. Marine heatwaves destroy ecosystems and damage fisheries.
Researchers show conscious processes in birds' brains for the first time By measuring brain signals, a neuroscience research group at the University of Tbingen has demonstrated for the first time that corvid songbirds possess subjective experiences. Simultaneously recording behavior and brain activity enabled the group headed by Professor Andreas Nieder to show that crows are capable of consciously perceiving sensory input. Until now this type of consciousness has only been witnessed in humans and other primates, which have completely different brain structures to birds. "The results of our study opens up a new way of looking at the evolution of awareness and its neurobiological constraints," says Nieder. The study has been published in the journal Science on September 24, 2020.
High-performance single-atom catalysts for high-temperature fuel cells Unlike secondary batteries that need to be recharged, fuel cells are a type of eco-friendly power generation system that produce electricity directly from electrochemical reactions using hydrogen as fuel and oxygen as oxidant. There are various types of fuel cells, differing in operating temperatures and electrolyte materials. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), which use a ceramic electrolyte, are receiving increasing attention. Because they operate at high temperatures around 700 degrees Celsius, they offer the highest efficiency among fuel cell types, and can also be used to produce hydrogen by steam decomposition. For the commercialization of this technology, further improvement of cell performance is necessary, and novel high-temperature catalyst materials are highly anticipated.
Atom billiards with X-rays: A new approach to look inside molecules In 1921, Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery that light is quantized, interacting with matter as a stream of particles called photons. Since these early days of quantum mechanics, physicists have known that photons also possess momentum. The photon's ability to transfer momentum was used in a novel approach by scientists of the Max Born Institute, Uppsala University and the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser Facility to observe a fundamental process in the interaction of X-rays with atoms. The detailed experimental and theoretical results are reported in the journal Science.
Machine learning takes on synthetic biology: algorithms can bioengineer cells for you If you've eaten vegan burgers that taste like meat or used synthetic collagen in your beauty routine—both products that are "grown" in the lab—then you've benefited from synthetic biology. It's a field rife with potential, as it allows scientists to design biological systems to specification, such as engineering a microbe to produce a cancer-fighting agent. Yet conventional methods of bioengineering are slow and laborious, with trial and error being the main approach.
US probe to touch down on asteroid Bennu on October 20 After a four-year journey, NASA's robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx will descend to asteroid Bennu's boulder-strewn surface on October 20, touching down for a few seconds to collect rock and dust samples, the agency said Thursday.
Tree rings show scale of Arctic pollution is worse than previously thought The largest-ever study of tree rings from Norilsk in the Russian Arctic has shown that the direct and indirect effects of industrial pollution in the region and beyond are far worse than previously thought.
The male Y chromosome does more than we thought New light is being shed on a little-known role of Y chromosome genes, specific to males, that could explain why men suffer differently than women from various diseases, including COVID-19.
3-D camera earns its stripes Stripes are in fashion this season at a Rice University lab, where researchers use them to make images that plain cameras could never capture.
Simpler models may be better for determining some climate risk Typically, computer models of climate become more and more complex as researchers strive to capture more details of our Earth's system, but according to a team of Penn State researchers, to assess risks, less complex models, with their ability to better sample uncertainties, may be a better choice.
Singing sexy back: How sparrows adapted to COVID-19 shutdown As the streets of San Francisco emptied out in the first months of the pandemic, the city's male birds began singing more softly and improving their vocal range, making them "sexier" to females, according to a new study published Thursday.