Physicists extract single photon from laser beam light | Strange sail-like appendage adorns 125M-year-old dinosaur species | Alaskan fish evolved rapidly after massive 1964 quake
December 17, 2015
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Physicists extract single photon from laser beam light
A single photon has been extracted from a laser pulse by researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, using super-cooled atoms combined with optical technology. The physicists say the development could fuel a major breakthrough in quantum computing because photons are ruled by quantum mechanics and could be used to carry information in quantum computing systems. Findings were published online in Nature Photonics. (12/14)
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Science in the News
Strange sail-like appendage adorns 125M-year-old dinosaur species
A new species of dinosaur that lived about 125 million years ago in what is now Spain featured a sail-like appendage on its back that has scientists puzzled, according to findings published in PLOS ONE. Researchers haven't yet figured out what the plant-eating Morelladon beltrani used the strange appendage for, speculating it could have been used to help regulate its temperature, provide extra fat storage or just be for display. The Christian Science Monitor (12/16)
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Alaskan fish evolved rapidly after massive 1964 quake
The tiny threespine stickleback swiftly evolved from a saltwater fish into a freshwater one following the magnitude-9.2 earthquake in Alaska in 1964, researchers say. The radical changes in the fish's physical features took place over 50 years, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In some of the populations that we studied we found evidence of changes in fewer than even 10 years. For the field, it indicates that evolutionary change can happen quickly, and this likely has been happening with other organisms as well," said study co-author William Cresko. Discovery (12/16)
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Helium rain possible on Saturn and Jupiter, experiment suggests
Scientists say helium rain is possible not only on Saturn but on Jupiter as well, after conducting a series of experiments using the powerful OMEGA laser at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. "We're showing the first experimental evidence at conditions relevant to Jupiter and Saturn. It's a surprise that [this] happens over such a broad regime of temperatures and densities," said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist Gilbert Collins, who presented the findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting this week. (12/16)
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Enceladus' geysers blasting less material now than when discovered
The geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus appear to be slowing, according to data collected by the Cassini spacecraft. New analysis indicates that the geysers are spewing 30% to 50% less material than they did when Cassini first saw them in 2005. The findings were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting. (12/16)
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Questions about mathematics mystery linger following gathering of experts
Math's biggest mystery remains as baffling as ever after a group of mathematicians met this month to try to learn more about a massive mathematical proof that claims to solve the abc conjecture. The reclusive author of the more than 500-page proof, Shinichi Mochizuki, even made an appearance via Skype. Many workshop participants say they came away from the meeting with few answers but some clues on a general strategy. Nature (free content) (12/16)
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Regular exercise improves immune system, animal models show
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Mice that swam daily not only lost body fat but also developed a more effective immune system than sedentary mice, researchers report in findings expected to apply to humans. Exercise induced mild tissue damage, sparking an inflammatory response in the exercising mice that seemed to prime their bodies to fight off infection. When exposed to a pathogen, the immune response in sedentary mice surged, causing harmful inflammation in the lungs, while mice that had been physically active had a more moderate response and suffered milder illness. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (12/16)
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Funding Watch
NASA appropriation will fund SLS, planetary sciences
NASA will have a budget of $19.3 billion for 2016, exceeding the administration's request in most areas. The funding will secure the Space Launch System and planetary sciences programs. Space News International (12/16)
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