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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Science Scene

A group of American and Russian scientists has discovered a new element that is a missing link to developing some of the heaviest bits of atomic mass ever produced.

The element, still nameless, was produced by smashing together an isotope of calcium with the radioactive element berkelium in a particle accelerator near Moscow.

Published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the data supports the theory that as elements become heavier, they also become more stable and live longer than other atomic structures produced before.

In order for the element to gain an official name, the discovery has to be confirmed at another location. Once confirmed, the element will take its place on the periodic table.

Source: nytimes.com

Researchers learn about the brain from songbirds

The next time you call someone a bird brain, it may be a compliment.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have learned new information about the brain by decoding the genome of a zebra finch. Male zebra finches are known for their ability to learn a single love song from their father that they repeat through life.

The team of researchers, led by Wesley C. Warren and Richard K. Wilson, hope to glean clues about how humans learn language. The mechanisms of this learning in birds seem to have similarities with human vocal learning, all the way down to specific genes.

Decoding the zebra finch’s genome also assists others who study the bird’s other behaviors including its parental care and selection of mates.

Source: nytimes.com

Facial cues unnecessary for reading others’ emotions, study says

In a new study at San Francisco State University, researchers have discovered that people with Moebuis syndrome – a congenital condition that causes facial paralysis – have no trouble identifying other people’s emotions even though they cannot express them themselves.

The study comes from the theory that people determine others’ emotions by facial mimicry – the tendency of people to mirror each other’s emotions and facial cues.

Results from this study suggest that the brain has other systems to recognize facial expressions and people with facial paralysis learn to take advantage of those systems. If this can be taught, then it could be used to help others with social awkwardness or other developmental or social problems.

Source: nytimes.com

Cancer test may have anti-doping implications for athletes

A test used for cancer treatments may be a new way to determine if athletes are using human growth hormone.

The test uses the same concept that is used to detect breast and bone cancer. A laboratory technician takes several milliliters of blood, spins it in a centrifuge and then mixes it with chemicals. The reaction with the chemicals causes the sample to illuminate and the intensity of that light can signal whether a person has used human growth hormone over the past 10 to 14 days.

Anti-doping officials hope to use this new testing method as soon as possible because it is a drastic improvement over the older test. The previous test can only detect human growth hormone that has been used in the previous 24 to 48 hours.

Source: nytimes.com

– Compiled by NICK MARKWITH

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