The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week


Post 8634

The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week

Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.

This flat metalens can focus nearly the entire visible spectrum of light in the same spot and in high resolution.

This flat metalens can focus nearly the entire visible spectrum of light in the same spot and in high resolution.

Credit: Jared Sisler/Harvard SEAS

Physics could soon make it possible to replace those bulky, heavy, glass lenses on cameras with wafer-thin “metalenses” — materials microscopically engineered to focus light at a fraction of the weight and size of traditional lensing.

A metalens takes a different approach to focusing light. Instead of exploiting the diffraction properties of glass, a metalens uses nanofins — tiny structures, typically made of titanium dioxide — to bend wavelengths toward the metalens focal point. [Read more about the technology.]

Text of one paper fragment is shown matched to text from a page in Edward Cooke's 1712 travelogue and adventure tale.

Text of one paper fragment is shown matched to text from a page in Edward Cooke’s 1712 travelogue and adventure tale.

Credit: Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

A discovery from the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship could offer some insights into pirate reading tastes. [Read more about the discovery.]

A team of researchers in New Zealand is working to make an astonishing and mysterious medieval document available for public consumption.

The first results of the researchers’ work already appear online in an interactive version of the scroll, where individual passages come alive with their translations as readers zoom and click on them. [Read more about the scroll.]

When water levels in the pond are low, the Tetzacualco can be seen.

When water levels in the pond are low, the Tetzacualco can be seen.

Credit: Arturo Cruz, Terrasat Cartografía

A 1,000-year-old stone structure in Mexico may represent how some people in ancient Mesoamerica believed the Earth was created, an archaeologist suggests.

Given what the archaeologists have found so far, Hernández Bautista hypothesizes that the Tetzacualco’s large size and location in the middle of a pond mean that the structure is an attempt to represent a mythical creature known as Cipactli or Çipaqli, a fish monster from which the gods created the Earth, according to some ancient Mesoamerican legends. [Read more about the ancient structure.]

A photo reveals the face of the thin clay seal.

A photo reveals the face of the thin clay seal.

Credit: Courtesy of the Israeli Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old clay stamp near Jerusalem’s Western Wall that seems to shed some light on the political structure of the ancient society that inhabited the city.

The 0.5 by 0.6-inch (13 by 15 millimeters) clay stamp depicts two figures facing one another above archaic Hebrew script that reads “לשרער” (roughly: l’sar’ir). The researchers said that the word is a condensed version of the phrase “לשר העיר,” (l’sar ha-ir) which means “belonging to the governor of the city.” [Read more about the piece of clay.]

Satellite data enables scientists to map the seafloor, which is sinking under the weight of rising seas. (This map shows gravity anomalies in the western Indian Ocean.

Satellite data enables scientists to map the seafloor, which is sinking under the weight of rising seas. (This map shows gravity anomalies in the western Indian Ocean.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The bottom of the ocean is more of a “sunken place” than it used to be.

Scientists have long known that Earth’s crust, or outer layer, is elastic: Earlier research revealed how Earth’s surface warps in response to tidal movements that redistribute masses of water; and 2017’s Hurricane Harvey dumped so much water on Texas that the ground dropped 0.8 inches (2 centimeters), the Atlantic reported. [Read more about the ocean bottom.]

An artist's illustration depicting a hypothetical dust ring orbiting Tabby's star, more formally known as KIC 846.

An artist’s illustration depicting a hypothetical dust ring orbiting Tabby’s star, more formally known as KIC 846.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Well, we always knew the alien-megastructure idea was a long shot.

For the past two-plus years, astronomers have been trying to figure out what, exactly, is going on with Tabby’s star. A number of potential explanations have been floated, from orbiting comet fragments, to a huge dust cloud between Earth and KIC 8462852, to energy-collecting structures built by an advanced alien civilization. [Read more about alien megastructure.]

Would you like your water sparkling, from the tap or hauled out of an unsterilized river upstate? For proponents of the expensive new drinking trend known as “raw water,” the choice is as clear as a Poland Spring.

According to the Times, part of the movement’s success may come from that very “off the grid” appeal: Raw water passes through no federal or municipal pipes, contains no additives (such as fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral typically added to tap water to fight tooth decay), and generally receives no filtration, ensuring every bottle remains as mineral-rich as Mother Nature intended. [Read more about the trend.]

Discovery and excavation of the Upward Sun River infants

Discovery and excavation of the Upward Sun River infants

Credit: Ben Potter

A genetic analysis of a baby’s remains dating back 11,500 years suggests that a previously unknown human population was among the first to settle in the Americas.

Many thousands of years ago, the site where the infant lived — albeit briefly — and died was a residential camp with three tent-like structures. [Read more about the first Americans.]

Researchers use a highly sensitive imaging system to examine a coffin lid.

Researchers use a highly sensitive imaging system to examine a coffin lid.

Credit: Copyright Cerys Jones

About 2,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians made homemade wrappings for mummies from “recycled” scraps of paper that people had first used to scribble down shopping lists and personal notes.

In ancient Egypt, mummies were embalmed and then wrapped in fabric bandages. Then, they were covered with cartonnage, a paper-mache material made from recycled papyri and sometimes fabric, Gibson said. Once the cartonnage hardened and was covered with plaster, artisans painted it. [Read more about the camera.]

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The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week


Post 8582

The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week

Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.

The Veil Nebula as seen by Hubble. Because it looks cool.

The Veil Nebula as seen by Hubble. Because it looks cool.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team

The universe shouldn’t exist, according to new ultra-precise measurements of anti-protons.

This physics conundrum focuses on the idea that all particles have their antimatter twin with the same quantum numbers, only the exact opposite. Protons have anti-protons, electrons have positrons, neutrinos have anti-neutrinos etc.; a beautiful example of symmetry in the quantum world. [Read more about the universe.]

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline in a limousine in Dallas shortly before his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. (Texas Gov. John Connally adjusts his tie in the foreground.)

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline in a limousine in Dallas shortly before his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. (Texas Gov. John Connally adjusts his tie in the foreground.)

Credit: Getty Images

In a long-awaited declassification of files related to the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Donald Trump said this afternoon that he was releasing to the public 2,800 documents, while holding back others due to national security concerns. [Read more about the files.]

Jupiter's moon Europa, which harbors an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell.

Jupiter’s moon Europa, which harbors an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

E.T. may be out there, silently swimming in frigid oceans beneath miles and miles of ice.

Last week, planetary scientist Alan Stern offered: Maybe intelligent life is widespread throughout the galaxy but most of it lives in deep, dark subsurface oceans that are cut off from the rest of the cosmos. [Read more about the possibilities.]

Gal Wiener, owner and manager of the Winner's auction house in Jerusalem, holds two notes, including one on happiness, written by Albert Einstein in November 1922. Both notes were written in German on stationary from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Gal Wiener, owner and manager of the Winner’s auction house in Jerusalem, holds two notes, including one on happiness, written by Albert Einstein in November 1922. Both notes were written in German on stationary from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty

Two advice-filled notes Albert Einstein wrote to a bellboy in Japan 95 years ago, including one that advocated for “a calm and modest life,” fetched more than $1.5 million at an auction on Tuesday (Oct. 24).

A bidding war for the letter lasted 25 minutes, and ended with an anonymous buyer purchasing it for $1,560,000, a price that includes an additional charge known as the buyer’s premium. [Read more about the formula.]

A tiny repaired hole on the painting revealed it to be the lost Thomas Couture artwork. A conservationist of that painting had made a note of the hole.

A tiny repaired hole on the painting revealed it to be the lost Thomas Couture artwork. A conservationist of that painting had made a note of the hole.

Credit: Courtesy of the German Lost Art Foundation

A painting the Nazis looted from a Jewish leader of the French Resistance during World War II has been identified, German authorities announced yesterday (Oct. 25).

The Couture painting had been confiscated in 2012 when German authorities discovered a possible trove of Nazi-looted art in the Munich apartment of collector Cornelius Gurlitt. But it was not connected with a specific victim of Nazi artwork looting until now. [Read more about the work of art.]

A scan of the astrolabe revealed etchings on it.

A scan of the astrolabe revealed etchings on it.

Credit: University of Warwick

More than 500 years ago, a fierce storm sank a ship carrying the earliest known marine astrolabe — a device that helped sailors navigate at sea, new research finds.

The marine astrolabe likely dates to between 1495 and 1500, and was aboard a ship known as the Esmeralda, which sank in 1503. The Esmeralda was part of a fleet led by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the first known person to sail directly from Europe to India. [Read more about the tool.]

A cross section of the ancient tree. Each of the black dots has its own tree ring series, unlike modern trees, which usually have just one tree ring series in their trunks.

A cross section of the ancient tree. Each of the black dots has its own tree ring series, unlike modern trees, which usually have just one tree ring series in their trunks.

Credit: Xu and Berry, 2017

Earth’s first trees had hundreds of tree-like structures within them, making them exceedingly more intricate than the insides of modern trees, a new study finds. [Read more about the first trees.]

An Italian woman has a rare condition that causes her to sweat blood. On the left, an image of the woman's face during a bleeding episode. On the right, an image of the woman's skin under a microscope, which showed normal tissue.
An Italian woman has a rare condition that causes her to sweat blood. On the left, an image of the woman’s face during a bleeding episode. On the right, an image of the woman’s skin under a microscope, which showed normal tissue.

Credit: Reprinted with permission from CMAJ

A young woman in Italy has a rare and mysterious condition that causes her to sweat blood, according to a new report of her case. [Read more about the condition.]

A samurai unsheathes his traditional katana in this stock image.

A samurai unsheathes his traditional katana in this stock image.

Credit: zummolo/Shutterstock

What should you name a baby samurai? What food should a samurai bring to a battle? What is a samurai’s most treasured possession? A newly translated 450-year-old book supposedly written by a renowned samurai provides answers to these and many other questions about the Japanese swordsmen.

The rules also highlight the importance of archery, even suggesting that the best name for a baby born into the samurai class is “Yumi,” which means “bow.” [Read more about the book.]

Whoever said chemistry is boring hasn’t seen YouTube user Amazing Timelapse’s video showing a calculator melting into a surreal shape, reminiscent of a Salvador Dalí painting. Surprisingly, the calculator isn’t melting at all, or even being heated.

Plastics are different. The long carbon chains aren’t polar — they don’t have the same positive and negative sides. So water just bounces off the molecules and doesn’t separate them from their fellows. [Read more about the vapors.]

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The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week


Post 8286

The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week