Scientific Curiosities

General science/tech/society news, everything not directly related to computer hardware/software.

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More vaccine progress: This time, it’s malaria
Two recent papers describe strong protection against a difficult parasite.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/06 ... a-vaccine/
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New, deadly bacteria may be lurking in US; CDC warns of three puzzling cases
This isn't the first time the deadly bacteria has surfaced in the US unexpectedly.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... ing-cases/
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Did lead poisoning cause downfall of Roman Empire? The jury is still out
A new video from the American Chemical Society revisits longstanding academic debate
...
"While the question of the effects of lead poisoning on the Roman Empire is far from settled, [this] research adds to the growing body of scientific data drawn from multiple sources that show human-created lead pollution was a serious problem two thousand years ago," Killgrove concluded.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... still-out/
The great sleep divide
Sleep deficits are robbing poor people and racial minorities of health and earning power.
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Sadly, there’s little “if” about it. On average, the poor live less healthy lives and are more than three times as likely to die prematurely as the rich. That’s true for many well-documented reasons, including less healthy diets with too much processed food, polluted neighborhoods and a lot more toxic stress. In recent years, however, researchers have added one more factor to this mix: It turns out that the poor, as well as socially disadvantaged racial minorities, sleep much less well on average than the rich, which can take a major toll on their physical and mental health.
...
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... ep-divide/
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CIA officer from bin Laden hunt to lead Havana Syndrome probe as cases rise
There may be as many as 200 cases now, including around two dozen from Vienna.
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Despite years of alarming reports and investigations into the cases, the cause of the incidents and who may be behind them remain a mystery—and cases continue to mount. News of the new task-force chief comes on the heels of a report from NBC News that the latest case count may be as high as 200. And though the incidents tend to be linked to Cuba—the condition is often referred to as "Havana Syndrome"—they have now been reported from every continent except Antarctica.
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https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... ases-rise/
Wonder if it is some device US State Department uses?
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Researchers devise a way to levitate small objects from reflective surfaces using sound waves
Non-contact manipulation using acoustic radiation force

https://www.techspot.com/news/90556-res ... faces.html
Archaeologists find ancient Egyptian warship sunk near Alexandria
The fast galley probably sank during an earthquake in the 100s BCE.
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Some of the techniques used in building the warship are clearly Greek, like the mortise-and-tenon joints (ones in which a tab from one piece of wood fits into a slot cut into the adjoining piece) that hold many of its timbers together. But other aspects of the ship’s design and construction are distinctly ancient Egyptian. Those clues, combined with some timbers that had evidently been salvaged and re-used from older ships, suggest that the warship was built somewhere in Egypt.
...
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... lexandria/
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On Earth, things evolve into crabs—could the same be true in space?
Evolution experts were kind enough to answer Ars' questions about alien crabs.

Many organisms on planet Earth aren't crabs. Dogs, for instance—definitely not crabs. Science also suggests that humans are not, in fact, crabs. But a surprising number of creatures either are crabs or look a lot like them. For example, a hermit crab has a distinctly crab-like appearance but is not technically a real crab. Hermit crabs are not alone; over the history of life on Earth, there have been five separate cases in which decapod crustaceans have evolved this way, a process common enough that it has picked up a formal term: carcinization.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... -in-space/
Second lab worker with deadly prion disease prompts research pause in France
A lab worker died of prion disease in 2019, nine years after a lab accident.
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Prions are misfolded, misshapen forms of normal proteins, called prion proteins, which are commonly found in human and other animal cells. What prion proteins do normally is still unclear, but they're readily found in the human brain. When a misfolded prion enters the mix, it can corrupt the normal prion proteins around them, prompting them to misfold as well, clump together, and corrupt others. As the corruption ripples through the brain, it leads to brain tissue damage, eventually causing little holes to form. This gives the brain a sponge-like appearance and is the reason prion diseases are also called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).
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According to a case report of her disease and death published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, Jaumain first developed symptoms in November 2017, about 7.5 years after the accident.
...
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... in-france/
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Evolutionary chaos as butterflies, wasps, and viruses have a three-way war
The evolutionary pressures result in some pretty complicated host interactions.
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Thursday's edition of Science included a description of a three-way fight between butterflies, the wasps that parasitize them, and the viruses that can infect both species. To call the interactions that have ensued "complicated" is a significant understatement.
...
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07 ... e-way-war/
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Microbiologist Elisabeth Bik queried Covid research – that’s when the abuse and trolling began
Bik’s home address was posted on Twitter and she faced a barrage of attacks after dissecting a paper endorsing hydroxychloroquine as treatment
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Bik discovered her skill for scientific detective work in 2013, when she was working at Stanford University in California. By pasting some lines from one of her research papers into the Google Scholar search engine, she found that her work had been used without giving her credit.
Bik began to wonder how widespread such plagiarism was. As her curiosity led her to poring over scientific papers with a more sceptical eye, it became clear Bik also had an uncanny ability. She could identify duplicated images and photo manipulation, the paper found, which would normally be undetectable to the human eye, or at least very difficult to identify without computer assistance.
...
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... ling-began
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Who knew that your fingernails grow 1nm per second?
Water cooled clay
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Astronomers spot light behind a black hole for the first time, reaffirming Einstein's theory of general relativity
An unexpected observation
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“Any light that goes into that black hole doesn’t come out, so we shouldn’t be able to see anything that’s behind the black hole,” Wilkins said. “The reason we can see that is because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself,” he added.
...
https://www.techspot.com/news/90632-ast ... -time.html
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