Daily Bulletin for 05/25/2017

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Resonant-Frequency Collapse Theory Busted

Ethan Siegel, SWaB!

The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on the morning of November 7, 1940, is the most iconic example of a spectacular bridge failure in modern times. As the third largest suspension bridge in the world, behind only the George Washington and Golden Gate bridges, it connected Tacoma to the entire Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound, and opened to the public on July 1st, 1940. Just four months later, under the right wind conditions, the bridge was driven at its resonant frequency, causing it to oscillate and twist uncontrollably. After undulating for over an hour, the middle section collapsed,…

Pyramid Conceals Traces of Early South Americans

Lizzie Wade, Sci Mag

About 600 kilometers north of Peru, an imposing earthen mound looms over the sea. People began building the ceremonial structure, called Huaca Prieta, about 7800 years ago. But according to a new study, the true surprise lies buried deep beneath the 30-meter-tall mound: stone tools, animal bones, and plant remains left behind by some of the earliest known Americans nearly 15,000 years ago. That makes Huaca Prieta one of the oldest archaeological sites in the Americas and suggests that the region’s first migrants may have moved surprisingly slowly down the coast.

Verdict in: Schiaparelli Ill-Prepared for Landing

Paul Rincon, BBC News

The crashed European spacecraft Schiaparelli was ill-prepared for its attempt at landing on the surface of Mars.That’s the conclusion of an inquiry into the failure on 16 October 2016.The report outlines failings during the development process and makes several recommendations ahead of an attempt to land a rover on Mars in 2020.That mission will require more testing, improvements to software and more outside oversight of design choices.

Ethiopian Cave Served Ancient Artists for 4,500 Years

Annalee Newitz, AT

45,000 years ago, in an area that is now part of Ethiopia, humans found a roomy cave at the base of a limestone cliff and turned it into a special kind of workshop. Inside, they built up a cache of over 40 kilograms of reddish stones high in iron oxide. Using a variety of tools, they ground the stones into different colored powders: deep reds, glowing yellows, rose grays. Then they treated the powder by heating it or mixing it with other ingredients to create the world’s first paint. For at least 4,500 years, people returned to this cave, known today as Porc-Epic, covering its walls in…

World’s Most Sensitive Dark Matter Detector Online

Ian O’Neill, Space.com

After three years of construction, the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment is online, and scientists report that the detector is operating as designed. The XENON1T detector hasn’t found any dark matter particles yet, but it has carried out a 30-day science run, and project scientists are optimistic about the future.

Zika Outbreak Flew Under the Radar

Laura Beil, Science News

The Zika virus probably arrived in the Western Hemisphere from somewhere in the Pacific more than a year before it was detected, a new genetic analysis of the epidemic shows. Researchers also found that as Zika fanned outward from Brazil, it entered neighboring countries and South Florida multiple times without being noticed.Although Zika quietly took root in northeastern Brazil in late 2013 or early 2014, many months passed before Brazilian health authorities received reports of unexplained fever and skin rashes. Zika was finally confirmed as the culprit in April 2015.

Alternative Medicine Not Answer to Opioid Crisis

Ross Pomeroy, RCScience

America’s opioid epidemic is not manufactured hype; it’s real. Prescription painkillers are now more widely used than tobacco. Opioids were to blame for 31,000 overdose deaths in 2015, a 300 percent increase from 1999. Of the top ten drugs involved in overdose deaths, half are prescription opioids.

Tracking Bacterial Travel Through Hospitals

Tracy Staedter, Live Science

In the first study of its kind, researchers have conducted a yearlong survey of the bacteria in a newly constructed hospital, starting two months before the facility opened and continuing over the next 10 months.Initial results of the Hospital Microbiome Project, published today (May 24) in the journal Science Translational Medicine, provide an unprecedented map of the microbial communities that inhabit a hospital on the patients, the staff and the surfaces. The study also gives researchers foundational information that could improve the understanding of hospital-acquired infections, the…

Sound Meets Flexible Electronics

Kendra Redmond, Physics Central

Voice-securing your ATM card. Talking to your newspaper over coffee. Projecting your voice to a room full of people using only a thin, lightweight loudspeaker that fits in your pocket. With new research published last week in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists from Michigan State University and Georgia Institute of Technology has opened the door to these possibilities.Last week, the team introduced the first ultrathin, flexible, scalable device that can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy and vice versaacting like both a microphone and a loudspeaker. To…

Tissue-Independent Cancer Drug Passes FDA Hurdle

Heidi Ledford, NN

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued its first approval of a cancer drug that targets tumours with specific mutations, regardless of where in the body the tumour first took root.This deviates from the agency’s previous approach: although a drug’s use may have been linked to the presence of a particular molecular marker, the FDA still required individual approvals for that drug based on the tumour’s location.The new approval, announced on 23 May, expands the use of a drug called pembrolizumab, manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. of Kenilworth, New Jersey.

A Whale of a Tale: How Did They Get so Big?

Madeline Sofia, NPR

Whales are the largest animals on the planet, but they haven’t always been giants. Fossil records show that ancient whales were much smaller than the currently living behemoths.So when did whales get so big, and how?A new study suggests it might be due to changes in climate that affected the food that some whales eat: krill and small fish. Instead of being spread throughout the ocean, lots of krill started being packed into a small area. Bigger whales were simply more efficient at eating the dense pockets of krill, and they beat out their smaller cousins.

Narwhals Stun Prey With Their Tusks

Kacey Deamer, Live Sci

Narwhals are sometimes known as the “unicorns" of the ocean because of the long “tusks" that protrude from the animals’ heads, but scientists have long been stumped about the function of this mysterious appendage until now.Drone footage of wild narwhals has revealed that the whales use their tusks to hunt fish. The tusk is actually a tooth that spirals out of the upper jaw on male narwhals, and can extend to about 10 feet (3 meters) long, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada. While scientists think the tusk’s primary function relates to selecting a mate, these new…

Second Black Hole Spotted in Cygnus A Galaxy

Alison Klesman, Astronomy

Cygnus A is an elliptical galaxy nearly 800 million light-years from Earth. In its center is a supermassive black hole at least a billion times the mass of our Sun, which appears to have recently gained a companion. New observations of this galaxy with the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array (VLA) have unveiled a second bright object located near its central supermassive black hole an object that radio astronomers think is a second supermassive black hole, destined to merge with the first.Based on radio observations taken with the VLA in 2015 and 2016, astronomers have spotted…

Physicist and Literature Professor Talk Time Travel

Bower & James, Conv

Literature professor Simon John James and physicist Richard Bower were both involved in the curating the exhibition, Time Machines the past, the future, and how stories take us there. Their conversations quickly revealed to them the many, wildly various, meanings of time travel. Here, they discuss how time travelling in literary and scientific terms might, one day, coincide.

Ocean-Fertilization Experiment Incites Controversy

Jeff Tollefson, Nature

Marine scientists are raising the alarm about a proposal to drop tonnes of iron into the Pacific Ocean to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, the base of the food web. The non-profit group behind the plan says that it wants to revive Chilean fisheries. It also has ties to a controversial 2012 project in Canada that was accused of violating an international moratorium on commercial ocean fertilization.The Oceaneos Marine Research Foundation of Vancouver, Canada, says that it is seeking permits from the Chilean government to release up to 10 tonnes of iron particles 130 kilometres off the…

Link Between Air Pollution and Insomnia Debunked

Science 2.0

Tablet and phone marketing executives can sleep well tonight. While those devices are commonly blamed for recent sleep problems, beams of pure digital energy shot straight into the eyeballs will do that, a new paper seeks to shore up the failing claim that tiny particulate matter, PM 2.5 (2.5 microns per cubic meter of air), is impacting human health and should be the source of new regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency.The authors claim such particulate matter, 1/40th the width of even a human hair, can damage sleep. Larger particles are of course a problem. PM 10 is what is…

WHO Elects First African Director

Cumming-Bruce & McNeil, Jr., NYT

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was voted director general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, the first African ever to head the agency.The election was the first conducted by the W.H.O. under more open and democratic rules. After nearly two years of public campaigning, originally by six candidates, the voting took place in a closed-door session in which the health ministers of 186 countries cast their ballots in secret.

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