Science

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UChicago Pritzker Molecular Engineering Prof. Y. Shirley Meng’s Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion has created the world’s first anode-free sodium solid-state battery.

With this research, the LESC – a collaboration between the UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and the University of California San Diego’s Aiiso Yufeng Li Family Department of Chemical and Nano Engineering – has brought the reality of inexpensive, fast-charging, high-capacity batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage closer than ever.

“Although there have been previous sodium, solid-state, and anode-free batteries, no one has been able to successfully combine these three ideas until now,” said UC San Diego PhD candidate Grayson Deysher, first author of a new paper outlining the team’s work.

The paper, published today in Nature Energy, demonstrates a new sodium battery architecture with stable cycling for several hundred cycles. By removing the anode and using inexpensive, abundant sodium instead of lithium, this new form of battery will be more affordable and environmentally friendly to produce. Through its innovative solid-state design, the battery also will be safe and powerful.

This work is both an advance in the science and a necessary step to fill the battery scaling gap needed to transition the world economy off of fossil fuels.

https://pme.uchicago.edu/news/uchicago-prof-shirley-mengs-laboratory-energy-storage-and-conversion-creates-worlds-first

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Survey data from 14 countries, researchers found individuals dissatisfied with their lives are more likely to hold negative views on immigration and distrust political institutions.

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submitted 2 weeks ago* (last edited 2 weeks ago) by [email protected] to c/[email protected]
 
 

"Politicians and nonprofit groups have blamed offshore wind turbines for whale deaths, but the science doesn’t support those claims—at all"

"Conducting necropsies on beached whales to pin down a cause of death is made difficult by the animals’ layer of blubber and by the fact that organs can literally cook inside a stranded whale. But it is starkly clear that human activity—in the form of ships that hit whales or fishing gear that wraps around them—is often to blame."

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From the article: A brain-controlled bionic leg has allowed people with amputations to walk more quickly and navigate stairs and obstacles more easily in a groundbreaking trial.

The device allows the wearer to flex, point and rotate the foot of the prosthetic using their thoughts alone. This led to a more natural gait, improved stability on stairs and uneven terrain and a 41% increase in speed compared with a traditional prosthetic. The bionic leg works by reading activity in the patient’s residual leg muscles and uses these signals to control an electrically powered ankle.

“No one has been able to show this level of brain control that produces a natural gait, where the human’s nervous system is controlling the movement, not a robotic control algorithm,” said Prof Hugh Herr, a co-director of the K Lisa Yang Center for Bionics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the senior author of the study.

“Not only will they be able to walk on a flat surface, but they’ll be able to go hiking or dancing because they’ll have full control over their movement,” he added.

Herr is himself a double amputee, having lost both legs to severe frostbite after being caught in a blizzard during a rock climbing trip in 1982. Despite having his original amputations decades ago, he hopes to have revision surgery to be able to benefit from a pair of similar bionic legs in the future.

“I’m thinking of doing that for both of my legs in the coming years,” he said.

In the trial, published in Nature Medicine, seven patients were given the bionic leg and compared with seven patients with traditional amputations. Patients reported less pain and less muscle atrophy following the pioneering surgery required for control of the bionic leg, which preserves natural connections between leg muscles. The patients were also more likely to feel that their prosthetic limb was part of their body.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/article/2024/jul/01/bionic-leg-walking-quicker-easier-amputees-trial

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From the article: While Matt Damon relied on potatoes cultivated in crew biowaste to survive in the hit film The Martian, researchers say it is a humble desert moss that might prove pivotal to establishing life on Mars.

Scientists in China say they have found Syntrichia caninervis – a moss found in regions including Antarctica and the Mojave desert – is able to withstand Mars-like conditions, including drought, high levels of radiation and extreme cold.

The team say their work is the first to look the survival of whole plants in such an environment, while it also focuses on the potential for growing plants on the planet’s surface, rather than in greenhouses.

“The unique insights obtained in our study lay the foundation for outer space colonisation using naturally selected plants adapted to extreme stress conditions,” the team write.

Prof Stuart McDaniel, an expert on moss at the University of Florida and who was not involved in the study, suggested the idea had merits.

“Cultivating terrestrial plants is an important part of any long-term space mission because plants efficiently turn carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and carbohydrates – essentially the air and food that humans need to survive. Desert moss is not edible, but it could provide other important services in space,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/article/2024/jun/30/scientists-find-desert-moss-that-can-survive-on-mars

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Highlights

  • Little is known about the association between facial attractiveness and longevity
  • We analyze how attractiveness based on yearbook pictures is linked to longevity
  • We find that the least attractive 1/6th had a significantly Higher Hazard of mortality
  • The least attractive 1/6th of women lived almost 2 years less than others at 20.
  • The least attractive 1/6th of men lived almost 1 years less than others at 20.
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https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jopy.12929

From the linked article:

Are all single people insecure? When we think about people who have been single for a long time, we may assume it’s because single people have insecurities that make it difficult for them to find a partner or maintain a relationship.

But is this true? Or can long-term single people also be secure and thriving?

Our latest research published in the Journal of Personality suggests they can. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, not everybody tends to thrive in singlehood. Our study shows a crucial factor may be a person’s attachment style.

Singlehood is on the rise

Singlehood is on the rise around the world. In Canada, single status among young adults aged 25 to 29 has increased from 32% in 1981 to 61% in 2021. The number of people living solo has increased from 1.7 million people in 1981 to 4.4 million in 2021.

At the same time, evidence suggests many single people are choosing to remain single and living happy lives.

Looking at our results more closely, we found four distinct subgroups of singles:

secure singles are relatively comfortable with intimacy and closeness in relationships (22%)

anxious singles question whether they are loved by others and worry about being rejected (37%)

avoidant singles are uncomfortable getting close to others and prioritise their independence (23% of younger singles and 11% of older long-term singles)

fearful singles have heightened anxiety about abandonment, but are simultaneously uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness (16% of younger singles and 28% of older long-term singles).

These findings should be considered alongside several relevant points. First, although most singles in our samples were insecure (78%), a sizeable number were secure and thriving (22%).

Further, simply being in a romantic relationship is not a panacea. Being in an unhappy relationship is linked to poorer life outcomes than being single.

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Walking three times a week to ease back pain almost halves the risk of its recurrence, according to the first study of its kind.

About 800 million people worldwide have low back pain, and seven in 10 who recover experience flare-ups within a year.

Researchers said the findings, published in the Lancet, show walking could have a “profound impact” on the leading cause of disability worldwide.

“You don’t need to be walking 5 or 10km every day to get these benefits,” said Mark Hancock, the study’s senior author and a professor of physiotherapy at Macquarie University in Australia.

“The important thing to remember is to start with short walks then gradually increase the distance and intensity as your fitness increases. Walking is a low-cost, widely accessible and simple exercise that almost anyone can engage in, regardless of geographic location, age or socioeconomic status.”

Hancock said people who walked three to five times a week, for an average of 130 minutes a week, remained pain-free for nearly twice as long compared with those who did not receive any treatment.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/article/2024/jun/19/walking-three-times-a-week-nearly-halves-recurrence-of-low-back-pain

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The relationship between mother and child may offer clues to the mystery of why humans live longer lives than expected for their size – and shed new light on what it means to be human.

“It’s one of the really mysterious things about humans, the fact that we live these super long lives as compared to so many other mammals,” said Matthew Zipple, Klarman Postdoctoral Fellow in neurobiology and behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences. “What we’re putting forward is that a part of the explanation for our long lifespan is this other foundational aspect of our lives, which is the relationship between the mother and her child.”

The paper, “Maternal Care Leads to the Evolution of Long, Slow Lives,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 14.

In their models, Zipple and co-authors found consistently that in species where offspring survival depends on the longer-term presence of the mother, the species tends to evolve longer lives and a slower life pace, which is characterized by how long an animal lives and how often it reproduces.

“As we see these links between maternal survival and offspring fitness grow stronger, we see the evolution of animals having longer lives and reproducing less often – the same pattern we see in humans,” Zipple said. “And what’s nice about this model is that it’s general to mammals overall, because we know these links exist in other species outside of primates, like hyenas, whales and elephants.”

Zipple and co-authors provide a universal mathematical model that demonstrates the relationship between the maternal survival and fitness of offspring on the one hand, and on the other, pace of life. Two additional empirical models incorporate the types of data about maternal survival and offspring fitness collected by field ecologists. Zipple said the hope is that these models can be further tested and utilized by field ecologists to predict how maternal care and survival impacts the evolution of a species’ lifespan

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2403491121

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From the article: This overturns the traditional thinking that regulatory T cells exist as multiple specialist populations that are restricted to specific parts of the body. The finding has implications for the treatment of many different diseases – because almost all diseases and injuries trigger the body’s immune system.

Current anti-inflammatory drugs treat the whole body, rather than just the part needing treatment. The researchers say their findings mean it could be possible to shut down the body’s immune response and repair damage in any specific part of the body, without affecting the rest of it. This means that higher, more targeted doses of drugs could be used to treat disease – potentially with rapid results.

“We’ve uncovered new rules of the immune system. This ‘unified healer army’ can do everything - repair injured muscle, make your fat cells respond better to insulin, regrow hair follicles. To think that we could use it in such an enormous range of diseases is fantastic: it’s got the potential to be used for almost everything,” said Professor Adrian Liston in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Pathology, senior author of the paper.

To reach this discovery, the researchers analysed the regulatory T cells present in 48 different tissues in the bodies of mice. This revealed that the cells are not specialised or static, but move through the body to where they’re needed. The results are published today in the journal Immunity: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2024.05.023

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