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While in my backyard yesterday evening, July 15, 2018, I witnessed a rare beauty. I always marvel at the sight of celestial objects, so this was a real treat. As the sun set and dusk gave way to darkness, I saw Venus and the Moon holding hands, happily traversing the sky together. Looking west, over my neighbor’s house at approximately 9:00pm, no other objects were visible in the sky, so these two lights had the entire sky to themselves. I stayed outside watching Venus and the Moon slowly retreat away, moving together until I could no longer see them. I was elated to have beheld such magnificence.

I opened an app called SkyMap to see how accurate it would be and it was pretty close. Curiosity led me to find a website called TheSkyLive. There, I was able to input my location and approximate time, then scroll to face the direction I was looking in order to see how accurate the results would be. They were dead on. I took several pictures and included the ones that turned out best. I also combined an image from TheSkyLive with one of the pictures I took.

I wanted to know more about what I was seeing, so I searched. In my search, I learned a few things like the difference between an appluse and a conjunction. When celestial bodies appear close to one another it is called an appluse. When celestial bodies share the same right ascension it is called a conjunction. This event is both. An appluse is easy to understand, but a conjunction was not as easy. I had to learn a bit of background in order to grasp the concept, but afterwards it had me considering a change in majors from Chemistry to Astronomy because of how cool it would be. Perhaps I’ll do both and become an Astrochemist!
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7/17/18
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Meteotsunamis

A tsunami, classified as a meteotsunami, has struck Spain in the early hours of today. It was five feet in height and no loss of is reported.

Unlike a genearal tsunami that leads to catastrophic events, a meteotsunamis are triggered by the fluctuations in the atmpospheric pressure, according to scientists.

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Such technology is both an extension of our human senses and a stepping stone that leads to new knowledge.

"An array of 64 dishes, each 13.5 metres in diameter, MeerKAT is the most sensitive telescope of its kind in the world and will map the radio sky in unprecedented detail."

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An article published in the magazine "Trends in Ecology & Evolution" - you can read it at https://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/fulltext/S0169-5347(18)30117-4 - describes a research on the origins of modern humans. A scientific consortium led by Dr. Eleanor Scerri, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, collected what's believed to be evidence that modern humans' ancestors were scattered across Africa, remained separate for millennia diversifying and then remixing to form the current Homo sapiens.

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An article published in the journal "Nature Ecology & Evolution" - it's paywalled, sorry! If you have access, you can read it at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0599-y - describes the discovery of a sauropod dinosaur, a herbivore of the long-necked type dating back to the Late Triassic period. Named Ingentia prima by the team led by Dr. Cecilia Apaldetti of the Instituto y Museo de Ciencias Naturales in San Juan, Argentina, it was a giant herbivore that lived in today's South America about 205 million years ago, 25 million earlier than thought.

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An article published in the journal "Genome Biology" - you can read it at https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-018-1456-7 - describes a research on some transposons, commonly called jumping genes because they can move within the DNA of an organism, typically leaving copies of themselves in the original location. A team of researchers looked for traces of two transposons, identified as L1 and BovB, in 759 species of plants, animals and fungi. Their theory is that they have become parts of mammalian DNA through a horizontal gene transfer, which means acquiring them from another species.

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The Korea Advanced Institute of Science the and Technology (KAIST) announced that professor Jung Woo-Cheol’s new material engineering research team developed the electrode coating technology that dramatically improves fuel cell life and performance only by oxide coating within 5 minutes.

Fuel cells are eco-friendly generators that do not emit air pollutants.

The solid oxide fuel cell not only has high efficiency but also has the advantage that various fuels can be directly used in addition to expensive hydrogen.

Solid oxide fuel cells require high operating temperatures of more than 700 degrees Celsius, resulting in high cost of materials and systems. It also has performance degradation issues when operated for a long time.

The KAIST research team has maximized the oxygen reduction activity of platinum thin films used as a cathode.

The oxide coating technology was developed to prevent platinum electrodes from aggregating at high temperatures.

The key to success in coating with a new material called “praseodymium-doped ceria” on the platinum surface through electrochemical plating.

By this process, its performance was increased over 1000 times than that of original platinum plating.

It was possible thanks to praseodymium-doped ceria’s high conductivity and it is an excellent oxygen reduction catalyst. Also, it only takes only 5 minutes to coat.

The research team also added that high-performance thin film solid oxide fuel cell cathodes could be achieved simply by controlling the praseodymium doped ceria nanostructures without using any platinum at all.

Professor Jung Woo-cheol said that “It has excellent technical value because it utilizes electrochemical plating which is easy for mass-production.” He also added that “We can replace the platinum electrode of thin-film solid oxide fuel cell and is expected to increase market competitiveness with the lower price.”

The research was conducted with the support of Korea Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning and Korea Electric Power Corporation.

The results were published as the cover paper at the cover of Advanced Energy Materials on July 5.

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An article published in the journal "Science" - you can read it at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6397/88 - describes the results of a genetic research on the populations of Southeast Asia. A team of researchers sequenced the DNA of 26 human beings that lived up to 8,000 years ago in various parts of that area and subsequent analysis led them to conclude that today's populations descended from at least four ancient populations. This expands a research published in May, again in "Science" - this one is paywalled, if you have access you can read it at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6397/92 - which found three migrations, and contradicts at least two of the theories that have been discussed during the last century.

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Lee Hyun-taek, a professor at SNU’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, professor Ahn Sung-hoon, and a team of professors made an artificial muscle fiber that moves by light using shape-memory alloy.

A shape-memory alloy is an alloy that “remembers” its original shape and that when deformed returns to its pre-deformed shape when heated.

The key to making this ‘muscle’ was the material and shape of the shape memory alloy. The researchers processed nickel and titanium to produce a diamond-like grid of about 25 μm (micrometer, a millionth of a meter), a hundredth of the thickness of the hair. The lattice diminished or stretched as the temperature changed, but it was easily adjustable with only a small amount of energy.

This ‘muscle’ uses less energy, but the strain is much greater than other alloys. They were able to change the size up to 60% of its total size. This is much more than the general strain of conventional shape memory alloy of 6%. If the alloy strain is larger, artificial muscles can bend more, which allows for more effective movement. The deformation rate is also fast, so it is possible to contract and relax at a very high speed of up to 1600 times per second.

Professor Ahn, who is in charge of the research announced that “We can exert about double force than the myofibrillar that make up our muscles.”

The results were published as a cover paper for the international nanotechnology journal Small on June 7.

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An article published in the journal "Nature Communications" - you can read it at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04973-4 - describes a research on the consequences of the evolution of the first animals on the Earth's climate over 500 million years ago. A team of researchers investigated the consequences of the process called bioturbation, the reworking of soil and sediment by animals or plants, the cycles of phosphorus, oxygen and sulfur concluding that it led to a drop in oxygen in the seas and a global warming with various mass extinctions over the next 100 million years.
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