The ancestors of all animals and the trauma of Betelgeuse: the most interesting scientific discoveries of the year

  • Structures around the Earth's core

A group of geophysicists from the University of Maryland discovered unexpected widespread

common structures near the core of the Earth.The structures were discovered when researchers analyzed thousands of records of seismic waves passing through the Earth - they turned out to be areas of unusually dense hot rock.

Earthquakes send sound waves through the Earth.Seismograms record echoes as these waves travel along the core-mantle boundary, diffracting and bending around dense rock structures. A new study by the University of Maryland provides the first general understanding of these structures, finding that they are much more common than previously known. Credit: Doyoung Kim / University of Maryland.

  • "Regime Change" in the Arctic Ocean

A group of planetary scientists from StanfordUniversity discovered that regime change is taking place in the Arctic Ocean. They found that the proliferation of phytoplankton dramatically altered the Arctic's ability to convert atmospheric carbon. This is a striking indicator that the northern region is warming up faster than anywhere else on Earth.

  • Alien civilization and black holes

And the team working at the School of Physics and AstronomyThe University of Glasgow conducted an experiment that confirmed a 50-year-old theory describing how an alien civilization could use a black hole.

The theory described how energy can be obtainedwhen an object falls into the ergosphere of a black hole. The work of the Scottish team was to create a system that used small speaker rings to create a bend in sound waves similar to the bends of light waves suggested by theory.

  • Graphene and electric current

A group of physicists from the University of Arkansasdeveloped a circuit capable of capturing the thermal motion of graphene and converting it into electrical current. The design was based on research done at the university three years ago that showed ripples and bends on graphene sheets promise to harvest energy - this controversial work by Richard Feynman, which showed that Brownian motion could not work.

Credit: University of Arkansas.

  • Discovery of a quantum "fifth state of matter" in space

A team of researchers from NASA announced thatthe quantum "fifth state of matter" was first discovered in space - an observation that could help solve some of the most complex mysteries of the quantum universe. The observations were carried out using Bose-Einstein condensate instruments conducting experiments aboard the International Space Station.

A team of NASA scientists have released the first results of experiments with Bose-Einstein condensate aboard the International Space Station, where particles can be manipulated without the constraints of gravity.

  • Proof of Darwin's theory 140 years later

A team led by a Ph.D.Student Laura van Holstein of St John's College, Cambridge University first proved one of Charles Darwin's theories of evolution - nearly 140 years after his death. The theory suggested that mammalian subspecies played a more important role in evolution than previously thought, and its evidence could play an important role in protecting endangered species.

Founding book by Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species. Credit: Nordin Katic

  • Ice Age weather

A group of researchers from the University of Arizonafound a way to determine how cold the ice age was. They found that for every doubling of atmospheric carbon, global temperature should increase by 3.4 ° C, which is in the middle of the range predicted by the latest generation of climate models (1.8 ° C to 5.6 ° C). They then noted that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during the Ice Age were around 180 ppm, which allowed them to calculate temperatures during that period.

  • Fool's Gold Made Valuable

Also, a group from the University of Minnesotafound a way to make "fool's gold" (pyrite) valuable - they electrically converted samples of a usually non-magnetic material from iron sulfide into a magnetic material. The researchers noted that this was the first time that a completely non-magnetic material was transformed into a magnetic one and suggested that their method could lead to the creation of new materials.

  • The first image of "another solar system"

A team of scientists working at the Very LargeTelescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory, took the first-ever image of a young solar star accompanied by two giant exoplanets - an observation that could help astronomers better understand how planets in our solar system formed. The new system was located about 300 light years away and was named TYC 8998-760-1.

Very large telescope of the European SouthObservatory (VLT) made the first ever image of a young solar star accompanied by two giant exoplanets. Images of systems with multiple exoplanets are extremely rare, and until now astronomers have never directly observed more than one planet orbiting a sun-like star. Observations can help astronomers understand how planets formed and developed around our Sun. Credit: European Southern Observatory.

  • The ancestors of all animals

A team of researchers from CaliforniaUniversity of Riverside has identified the ancestors of all animals living today. The 555 million year old fossilized burrows of a tiny worm-like creature called Ikaria wariootia were discovered 15 years ago in Nilpen, South Australia. Researchers with this new effort used 3D laser scanners to identify the fossilized remains of the creatures that created them.

Artistic rendering of Ikaria wariootia. Credit: Sohail Wasif / UCR.

  • Supernova performance

A team from Michigan State University foundthat the innermost parts of supernovae can create carbon atoms 10 times faster than previously thought. Such reactions, known as triple alpha processes, challenge theories that explain why the Earth has unusually high amounts of some of its heaviest elements, such as the isotopes of molybdenum and ruthenium.

Cassiopeia A is a supernova remnant in the constellation Cassiopeia. Credit: NASA / CXC / SAO.

  • New explanation for global cooling

Also, the joint team from Texas A&M,The University of Houston and Baylor University found that sediment samples taken from a Texas cave could reverse the meteorite explanation for an ancient global cooling. The geochemical composition of the deposits suggested that the early Dryas was caused by a series of volcanic eruptions and an already cooling planet, and not by an asteroid impact, as previously assumed.

Archaeological excavations at Hall Cave have revealedfor geochemical analysis of deposits that are approximately 20,000 to 6,000 years old. Credit: Michael Waters, Texas A&M University

  • Dive into the Mariana Trench

And a new Chinese manned underwater vehiclereached the deepest ocean trench on Earth. The submarine "Fendouzhe" descended to a depth of more than 10,000 meters in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. There were three researchers in it. This dive marked the first live video feed from the bottom of the famous trench. The device was also equipped with a robotic arm that allowed the team to collect biological samples.

  • Cough drop imaging for COVID-19

Also, a couple of researchers from India,Padmanabha Prasanna Simha and Prasanna Simha Mohan Rao, experimentally visualized cough fields in common mouth covering scenarios and found that the effectiveness of cloth masks used to prevent COVID-19 depends on the type of material.

  • The heterogeneity of the universe

A. Lucas Lombreiser, Professor of GenevaUniversity, suggested that the universe is not as homogeneous as it was once thought. He also suggested that if the expansion was viewed from the perspective of the Earth as a giant bubble - where the density of matter was significantly lower than the known density for the entire universe - the consequences could explain the differences found when calculating the Hubble constant.

M106. Credit: NASA

  • Quantum breakthrough

In addition, a team of engineers from the UniversityNew South Wales has solved a 58-year-old puzzle on the road to a quantum breakthrough. By experimenting with nuclear magnetic resonance on a single atom of antimony, they discovered electrical resonance instead of magnetic resonance and thus solved the puzzle of how to control nuclear spin using an electric field, not a magnetic field.

An artist's impression of how a nanometer-sized electrode is used to locally control the quantum state of a single core within a silicon chip. Credit: UNSW / Tony Melow.

  • Betelgeuse's injuries

A team of researchers from the USA, Germany andGreat Britain, studying data from the Hubble telescope, found evidence that the mysterious blackout of Betelgeuse was caused by a traumatic outbreak. The sudden darkening of the famous star has led some researchers to believe that it is about to go supernova. Instead, the researchers found that a decrease in brightness was more likely due to the ejection and cooling of dense hot gases, suggesting that the star may be experiencing a darkening period a year earlier than usual.

This four-pane graph shows howThe southern region of the rapidly developing bright red supergiant star Betelgeuse could suddenly become fainter by several months in late 2019 and early 2020. In the first two panels, as seen in ultraviolet light with the Hubble Space Telescope. A telescope, a bright hot bubble of plasma ejected from a huge convective cell on the surface of a star. On the third panel, the outgoing exhaust gas rapidly expands outward. It cools down, forming a huge cloud of darkening dust particles. The last panel shows a huge cloud of dust blocking light (as viewed from Earth) from a quarter of the star's surface. Image Credit: NASA, ESA & E. Wheatley (STScI).

  • New green technology

Also, the University of Massachusetts teamin Amherst has developed a new green technology that generates electricity seemingly out of thin air. The device they created (which they called an "air generator") used electrically conductive protein nanowires to create electricity from moisture in the air. They also pointed out that the device can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is non-polluting, renewable, and can be produced inexpensively.

Graphic representation of a thin film of proteinnanowires that generate electricity from atmospheric moisture. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst say the device can literally produce electricity from air. Credit: UMass Amherst / Yao and Lovli Laboratories.

  • New sushi parasites

In addition, a group of researchers associated withseveral agencies in Washington state found that the number of so-called land parasites has increased 283 times over the past 40 years. They looked through thousands of articles on parasitic worms and found that their numbers had increased dramatically over the past few decades in a wide variety of fish, many of which are consumed as land. They recommend sushi lovers to check their food before consuming.

  • A new bizarre species of parasitic fungi found in Twitter

And the team from the Danish Museum of Natural HistoryThe University of Copenhagen discovered on Twitter a bizarre new species of parasitic fungi. A Danish scientist was browsing her Twitter feed when she came across a photograph of a North American centipede shared by her American colleague Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech. She noticed several tiny mushroom-like dots on the creature. Further investigation revealed that the spots belonged to a previously unknown species of Laboulbeniales.

  • Comparison of the ages of humans and dogs

In addition, the team from the School of MedicineThe University of California San Diego has developed a formula that compares the ages of humans and dogs more accurately than the old rule of thumb of "multiply by seven." They found that because the two species do not age at the same rate, multiplying by one factor does not accurately reflect the differences in aging.

To calculate your dog's age in"Human years" based on epigenetics, find the age of the dog on the lower axis and slide your finger straight up until you reach the red curve. Then swipe straight to the left to find the person's age. Credit: Cell Press.

  • Ancient find in a meteorite

Finally, a group of scientists from WashingtonUniversity of St. Louis found that a piece of meteorite contains unexpected evidence of the existence of pre-solar matter. When the researchers examined the lump, they were surprised to find tiny pieces of solid interstellar material that had formed before the birth of the Sun - prior theory suggested that such grains could not survive in such an environment.

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