Mystery of why arteries harden may have been solved, say scientists

Study finds calcium deposits are triggered by molecule produced by damaged cells The mysterious mechanism behind the hardening of arteries may have been solved, researchers have revealed, in a study that also suggests the first potential preventive drug for the condition linked to heart attack, dementia and stroke. Arteries harden as calcium becomes deposited in the elastic walls of the vessels, a process that happens as we age and is exacerbated for patients with diabetes or kidney disease. Stiffening can also occur as calcium becomes deposited in fatty plaques in the arteries a condition called atherosclerosis. The mechanism that causes the calcium to be deposited has been difficult to unpick, but now scientists say they have the answer: it is …

Geothermal Energy Could Save the Climateor Trigger Lots of Quakes

This story originally appeared on Grist and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Imagine if there was a carbon-free form of energy hiding in the ground beneath you. One that we could turn to anytime, even on cloudy, windless days. There’s no need for imagination—it exists. Research suggests that geothermal energy could be the key to running the country on purely renewable power. A recent memo from the conservative clean-energy think tank ClearPath estimates that geothermal energy could supply as much as 20 percent of the country’s electricity. That would put the United States nearly on par with Iceland, which gets roughly a quarter of its power from underground heat. But getting there depends on loosening regulations and borrowing …

This Crafty Robot Can Write in Languages Its Never Seen Before

Among the many things we humans like to lord over the rest of the animal kingdom is our complex language. Sure, other creatures talk to one another, but we’ve got all these wildly complicated written languages with syntax and fun words like defenestrate. This we can also lord over robots, who, in addition to lacking emotion and the ability to not fall on their faces, can’t write novels. Atsunobu Kotani Surely, the robot wouldn’t be able to copy a rough sketch that Kotani did of the Mona Lisa on the whiteboard? Well, this robot is not so easily confused. “That was back in August, and that picture is still on our whiteboard in our lab,” Tellex says. But nobody’s perfect. …

The Evidence Is Strong: Air Pollution Seems to Cause Dementia

This story originally appeared on Mother Jones and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. A few years ago I stood in a cramped trailer beside the busy 110 freeway in Los Angeles as researchers at the University of Southern California gathered soot thrown off by vehicles pounding by just a few yards from their instruments, which rattled whenever a heavy truck passed. I was there to learn about how scientists were beginning to link air pollution—from power plants, motor vehicles, forest fires, you name it—to one of the least understood and most frightening of illnesses: dementia. At that time, as I reported in Mother Jones, the research implicating air pollution as one factor that can contribute to dementia was …

Physicists Are Bewitched by Twisted Graphene’s ‘Magic Angle’

Pablo Jarillo-Herrero is channeling some of his copious energy into a morning run, dodging startled pedestrians as he zips along, gradually disappearing into the distance. He’d doubtlessly be moving even faster if he weren’t dressed in a sports coat, slacks and dress shoes, and confined to one of the many weirdly long corridors that crisscross the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But what he lacks in gear and roadway he makes up for in determination, driven by the knowledge that a packed auditorium is waiting for him to take the podium. Jarillo-Herrero has never been a slacker, but his activity has jumped several levels since his dramatic announcement in March 2018 that his lab at MIT had found …

Box jellyfish: Australian researchers find antidote for world’s most venomous creature

Jellyfishs sting carries enough venom to kill more than 60 people An antidote has been discovered for the worlds most venomous creature, the Australian box jellyfish. Researchers at the University of Sydney have found an antidote for the sting of the jellyfish which carries enough venom to kill more than 60 people. A single sting from the creature will cause excruciating pain and skin necrosis and, if the dose of venom is large enough, cardiac arrest and death within just minutes. Using genome editing, pain researchers at the universitys Charles Perkins Centre found a molecular antidote that blocks the symptoms of a box jellyfish sting if applied to skin within 15 minutes. The researchers took millions of human cells and …

Whats Known About the SpaceX Crew Dragon Accident

During a series of engine tests of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft this past Saturday, the vehicle experienced what the company has characterized as an "anomaly." Based upon an unauthorized leaked video of the accident, the company was counting down toward a firing of the Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters when the vehicle exploded. SpaceX has not validated the video, but it is consistent with verbal accounts of the failure that have been shared with Ars. After the accident, large dramatic clouds of orange smoke billowed above Landing Zone 1, where SpaceX conducted Saturday's engine tests. According to one source, the orange plumes were the result of between one and two tons of nitrogen tetroxide—the oxidizer used by Dragon's SuperDraco engines—burning at the location. …

The Notre Dame Fire and the Future of History

Some of the wood that burned in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on Monday was put in place in the year 1160. The beams and exterior of the roof over the nave, the long main section of the building, date from between 1220 and 1240. Nearly a millennium ago it was forest; today, after a catastrophe that cuts to the heart of French culture and human history, it’s ash. “It was one of the oldest—until today—surviving roofs of that kind,” says Robert Bork, an architectural historian at the University of Iowa. “It’s incomparable.” The fire began Monday evening, around 6:30 pm, in the church’s attic. The building’s familiar towers and flying buttresses loomed over the Ile de la …

Noisy Quantum Computers Could Be Good for Chemistry Problems

Scientists and researchers have long extolled the extraordinary potential capabilities of universal quantum computers, like simulating physical and natural processes or breaking cryptographic codes in practical time frames. Yet important developments in the technology—the ability to fabricate the necessary number of high-quality qubits (the basic units of quantum information) and gates (elementary operations between qubits)—is most likely still decades away. However, there is a class of quantum devices—ones that currently exist—that could address otherwise intractable problems much sooner than that. These near-term quantum devices, coined Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) by Caltech professor John Preskill, are single-purpose, highly imperfect, and modestly sized. As the name implies, NISQ devices are “noisy,” meaning that the results of calculations have errors, which in some …

Canada warming at twice the global rate, climate report finds

Report by Environment and Climate Change Canada suggests the majority of warming is the result of burning fossil fuels Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, a landmark government Canadas climate is warming more rapidly than the global average, and this level of warming effectively cannot be changed, Nancy Hamzawi, assistant deputy minister for science and technology at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told reporters on Monday. The report, released late on Monday by Environment and Climate Change Canada, paints a grim picture of Canadas future, in which deadly heatwaves and heavy rainstorms become a common occurrence. Forty-three government scientists and academics authored the peer-reviewed report. While global temperatures have increased 0.8C since 1948, Canada …

Costa Rica’s Zero-Carbon Plan Could Be a Model for the World

Carlos Alvarado Quesada has heard all the naysayers before. In February, the 39-year-old president of Costa Rica committed to ridding the country of fossil fuels by 2050. If successful, Alvarado's plan could make Costa Rica the first zero-emissions country. With a population of merely 5 million, this leafy Central American nation is not a major contributor to the world's climate crisis. So why bother then? "People ask me a lot, why do this if you are so small," Alvarado said in a meeting last week with editors at WIRED's San Francisco office. "They say, you're not going to move the needle or affect the scale of the problem." China, the US, and India hold the dark distinction of leading the …

Women’s Pain Is Different From Men’sthe Drugs Could Be Too

Men and women can’t feel each other’s pain. Literally. We have different biological pathways for chronic pain, which means pain-relieving drugs that work for one sex might fail in the other half of the population. So why don’t we have pain medicines designed just for men or women? The reason is simple: Because no one has looked for them. Drug development begins with studies on rats and mice, and until three years ago, almost all that research used only male animals. As a result, women in particular may be left with unnecessary pain—but men might be too. Now a study in the journal Brain reveals differences in the sensory nerves that enter the spinal cords of men and women with …