cubbi (cubbi) wrote,

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April 2012 in science: from light bending to optimal sag

uh-oh, it's almost august.. will I catch up in time for the Nobels?

So, here's what happened in April 2012, besides James Cameron, Ross Perot, and Larry Page starting up the asteroid mining company.

The orbiton, the third, and the most elusive component of the electron, was finally detected (did you know electrons break up into holons, spinons, and orbitons under certain conditions? Those are quasiparticles, but still cool)

Equally cool, the Airy function for slight light bending was shown to be just an approximation and a true solution of Maxwell's equations for self-bending light was found, while another lab empirically found the same solution and created light packets that travel in circles.

Speaking of light, room temperature single-photon emitter was created, based on diamond diode.

Also, prototype quantum network was able to transmit a single qubit over a 60-meter fiberoptic cable, using a single messaging photon.

In ancient history, turns out the late heavy bombardment didn't end abruptly at 3.8Bya as previously thought, and continued for another 2B years, well into the early life (split of bacteria from archaea and the rise of cyanobacteria)

In biology, the hunt for magnetoreception in birds is still going on, this time the location for the organ is the inner ear (eyes and beaks were weakly dominant hypotheses)

Over ten million genetically-modified mosquitos were released in the city of Juazeiro, Brazil (some locals were "worried" to see that), to override the local population and reduce the spread of dengue, and the early results were good.

Manipulation of memory during the reconsolidation phase (discovered just two years ago), already used in a variety of cool ways, was used to help drug addicts forget how to take drugs.

The near-dogma that facial expressions are biological was shaken by the study that showed that the six Darwin's emotions are actually Western European emotions, and the asians don't recognize them in the faces.

In practical news, superhydrophobic coating for cotton fabric was created, more hydrophobic than car wax or Teflon, and unchanged after 95 hours of organic solvents, acids, and bases, and 50 washing machine cycles.

Tight-rope walking was mathematically studied, resulting in the optimal sag formula.

A bizarre single-strand RNA-DNA hybrid virus was discovered in a volcanic hot spring.

The demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica has eyes, even thought it has no nervous system, and they use cryptochromes rather than opsins

In rare geology news, people who build their houses from tuff (specifically, Neapolitan yellow tuff) might be in for a surprise in the event of fire: it falls apart.

In chemistry news, one lab got itself a Nature paper for printing labware on a 3D printers from quick-setting bathroom sealant.

In anti-science news, Tennessee, inspired by Louisiana, made it legal for public schools to teach creationism and climate change denial.

Also, DNA screening of traditional chinese medicine shows what toxic and critically endangered species go into its making, and just how much the ingredients differ from what's on the label.
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