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Tue, 18 Jan 2022
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Solar Cycle 25 sunspot count exceeds expectations for 15 straight months - NOAA

New sunspot counts from NOAA confirm that the young solar cycle is outperforming the official forecast. You are here:
sunspot count solar cycle 25
Sunspot counts have exceeded predictions for 15 straight months. The monthly value at the end of December 2021 was more than twice the forecast, and the highest in more than 5 years.

The "official forecast" comes from the Solar Cycle Prediction Panel representing NOAA, NASA and International Space Environmental Services (ISES). Using a variety of leading indicators, the Panel predicted that Solar Cycle 25 would peak in July 2025 as a relatively weak cycle, similar in magnitude to its predecessor Solar Cycle 24. Instead, Solar Cycle 25 is shaping up to be stronger.

Sky watchers have already noticed the change. "We are definitely seeing the effects on the ground in the Arctic!" reports Chad Blakley of the Swedish tour guide service Lights over Lapland. "Auroras now are the best in years."

Comment: On our planet we've seen a rise in unusual phenomena, extreme weather and increasingly erratic seasons, meanwhile an uptick in unusual activity has also been documented occurring in our solar system, and beyond: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Premature rejection in science: The case of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis

james powell geology younger dryas cometary impact

Dr. James Lawrence Powell
James Lawrence Powell publishes masterful takedown of the YD impact deniers

Dr. James Powell published an extraordinary review paper this week revealing and carefully detailing the premature (and pathological imho) rejection of the YDIH. When combined with Martin Sweatman's work from earlier this year, the whole sorry story of the unprofessional knee jerk opposition to the theory has finally been told. And what a wonderful and welcome documentarian we have in Powell. While "eminent" is an overused describing scientists, here the word is appropriate. Unlike the critics, James Lawrence Powell is not a press release scientist:
From Simon Shuster:

James Lawrence Powell graduated from Berea College with a degree in geology. He earned a PhD in geochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Science degrees from Berea College and from Oberlin College. He taught geology at Oberlin College for over twenty years and served as Acting President of Oberlin, President of Franklin and Marshall College, President of Reed College, President of the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, and President and Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. President Reagan and later, President George H. W. Bush, appointed him to the National Science Board, where he served for twelve years. Asteroid 1987 SH7 is named for him. In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).



Chemists use DNA to build the world's tiniest antenna

Developed at Université de Montréal, the easy-to-use device promises to help scientists better understand natural and human-designed nanotechnologies - and identify new drugs.

Like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit radio waves, the fluorescent nanoantenna designed by Alexis Vallée-Bélisle and his team receives light in one colour and depending on the protein movement it senses, then transmits light back in another colour, which we can detect. One of the main innovations of these nanoantennas is that the receiver part of the antenna (bright green) is also employed to sense the molecular surface of the protein studied via molecular interaction.
Researchers at Université de Montréal have created a nanoantenna to monitor the motions of proteins.

Reported this week in Nature Methods, the device is a new method to monitor the structural change of proteins over time - and may go a long way to helping scientists better understand natural and human-designed nanotechnologies.

"The results are so exciting that we are currently working on setting up a start-up company to commercialize and make this nanoantenna available to most researchers and the pharmaceutical industry," said UdeM chemistry professor Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, the study's senior author.


US surgeons successfully implant pig heart in human

© Pixabay
US surgeons have successfully implanted a heart from a genetically modified pig in a human patient, a first of its kind procedure, the University of Maryland Medical School said Monday.

The surgery took place Friday, and demonstrates for the first time that an animal heart can survive in a human without immediate rejection, the medical school said in a statement.

The patient, David Bennett, had been deemed ineligible for human transplant.

The 57-year-old Maryland resident is being carefully monitored to determine how the new organ performs.

"It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," he said a day before the surgery.

Bennett, who has spent the last several months bedridden on a life support machine, added: "I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover."

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the surgery on New Year's Eve, as a last ditch effort for a patient who was unsuitable for conventional transplant.


Experiment reveals antimatter and matter respond to gravity in the same way

matter antimatter graphic
© Flashmovie/Depositphotos
Every particle of normal matter has an antimatter equivalent
Precise measurements of the motions of antiprotons and protons suggest that antimatter responds to gravity in the same way as matter. The experiment was done at CERN by the international BASE collaboration and involved trapping antiprotons and negative hydrogen ions using electric and magnetic fields. The measurements also provide the best confirmation yet that the antiproton conforms to certain aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics.

Matter is made of baryons and leptons such as protons and electrons. According to the Standard Model, each of these particles has a corresponding antiparticle with identical mass but opposite charge. Just like protons and electrons, these antiparticles can combine to make antimatter. Indeed, physicists at CERN can make antihydrogen by combining an antiproton with an antielectron. These antiprotons are produced in large numbers at CERN in a facility dubbed the "Antimatter Factory".


China's Chang'E-5 lander makes first onsite detection of water on the moon

Chang’E 5 moon
Artist’s illustration of China’s Chang’E 5 moon sample-return spacecraft.
A joint research team led by Profs. LIN Yangting and LIN Honglei from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGGCAS) observed water signals in reflectance spectral data from the lunar surface acquired by the Chang'E-5 lander, providing the first evidence of in-situ detection of water on the Moon.

The study was published in Science Advances on January 7, 2022.

Researchers from the National Space Science Center of CAS, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of CAS and Nanjing University were also involved in the study.

Comment: Another recent study revealed that Earth's magnetosphere can create water on the surface of the moon.

See also:

Light Sabers

New cholera strain replaced older strains during the seventh cholera pandemic

© DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26847-y
Fig. 1: The T6SS gene clusters of the classical V. cholerae strain PA1849. A Illumina-generated reads were mapped to a 6th pandemic classical strain (O395) and a 7th pandemic El Tor V. cholerae strain (C6706). Read coverage plotted against the nucleotide sequence of the three T6SS gene clusters (shown as light blue arrows in panel (B)) separated by white vertical lines that indicate the intervening genomic sequences not included in this analysis. The top plot (gray) represents read coverage against the O395 reference, and the bottom plot (gray) represents read coverage against the C6706 reference. B Nucleotide alignment of the three T6SS clusters (bottom light blue arrows) from PA1849, O395 and C6706. The top black bars, representing the PA1849 T6SS clusters, are designated as the reference sequences. Conserved residues in O395 and C6706 sequences are represented by gray bars with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) highlighted by vertical black lines and insertions or deletions (INDELS) of base pairs represented by gaps with horizontal black dashes. C A schematic gene map for each T6SS gene cluster displays structural genes as blue arrows and effector/immunity pairs as red arrows. Zoomed alignments of regions of interest in strains C6706, O395 and PA1849 are shown. Hyphens in the alignment indicate deleted nucleotides (above) and amino acids (below). Nucleotides and their corresponding amino acid changes are colored. Multiple colors are used to indicate the new reading frame for the vasK frameshift mutation.
The bacterium Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of the diarrheal disease cholera and is responsible for seven known pandemics. The seventh cholera pandemic began in 1961 and is still active. Unlike previous pandemics, it is caused by cholera strains of a slightly different type. How did the modified cholera strains develop and spread, and what might have contributed to their success? Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, and CAU Kiel, in an international team with colleagues from City College New York and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, have now gained new insights into a molecular mechanism that provides insight into the interactions between cholera bacteria and may have played a role in the emergence of the seventh pandemic.

Comment: See also:


Google & Facebook fined for spying on users

facebook google
© getty
France's online privacy regulator has ordered Google and Facebook to cough up some €210 million ($237 million) between them, fining the firms for their questionable use of data-tracking 'cookies' on their sites.

The French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) announced the move in a statement on Thursday, saying Google will be made to pay €150 million ($169.5 million) and Facebook another €60 million ($67.8 million) within a period of three months, or else face additional fines of €100,000 ($113,000) per day.

The commission said the way the companies employ 'cookies' - small amounts of data generated while users browse websites that can be used to track their activity - "affects the freedom of consent," as Facebook and Google make it much easier for netizens to authorize that data-tracking than to decline it.


Cosmic first: Scientists observe red supergiant just before it explodes

illustration red supergiant star
© W. M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko
An artist's depiction of a red supergiant star within the last year before it explodes.
"This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die."

It's much easier for scientists to see the messy aftermath of stellar explosions than to watch the prelude to the drama.

But finally, astronomers managed to observe a red giant star just as it "went supernova," as exploding stars are called. Using a telescope in Hawaii, a team of scientists gathered observations of a red supergiant star in summer 2020. Lo and behold, in September, that very same star died in a supernova dubbed (SN) 2020tlf — an explosion that team members called "one of the most intriguing" supernovas of its type.

"This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die," Wynn Jacobson-Galán, an astronomy National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of California Berkeley and lead author of a new study reporting the results, said in a statement from the Keck Observatory, where the team gathered observations. "For the first time, we watched a red supergiant star explode!"


Coherent interstellar magnetic field detected

Taurus molecular cloud
The Taurus molecular cloud (grey scale), of which L1544 is a part, is superimposed onto the 2MASS sky image and the field orientation based on Planck data (thin white lines). The HINSA Zeeman spectrum (thick white line) is shown with the fitted Zeeman signature (blue).
Magnetic fields are the essential, but often "secret" ingredients of the interstellar medium and the process of making stars. The secrecy shrouding interstellar magnetic fields can be attributed to the lack of experimental probes.

While Michael Faraday was probing the link between magnetism and electricity with coils in the early 19th century in the basement of the Royal Institution, astronomers today still cannot deploy coils light-years away.

Using the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), an international team led by Dr. LI Di from National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) has obtained accurate magnetic field strength in molecular cloud L1544 — a region of the interstellar medium that seems ready to form stars.

Comment: See also: