The speed of universe expansion has been more accurately calculated

A group of researchers from Princeton has announced, through a work presented on Nature Astronomy, to have calculated more precisely the Hubble constant, or the speed with which the universe is expanding in relation to the distance between the galaxies.

Currently, the methods used to calculate this constant are basically two: that which is based on the analysis of the cosmic background radiation and that relating to the explosions of large stars very far from us.

However, these are two methods that do not agree: the first method, the one that analyzes the cosmic background radiation, reveals that the universe is expanding faster than can be calculated with the second method. It is clear that one of them is wrong, says Kenta Hotokezaka, a researcher at Princeton and one of the authors of the study, who used a new method based on the analysis of the fusion of two neutron stars.

These are very powerful energetic events that see two neutron stars collide at very high speed before merging. This event emits very strong gravitational waves that can also be intercepted on Earth. Just the interception of one of these events, which took place on August 17, 2017, was used by Hotokezaka and colleagues to calculate the speed of expansion of the universe.

The gravitational waves that occur during these events, in fact, create a characteristic pattern that has been called “standard siren.” Researchers also used data from various radio telescopes around the world to improve the resolution of radio images related to this cosmic explosion so that the final resolution was so high that it could be compared to that of a camera that distinguishes individual hair on the head of someone from 5 km away, as specified by Adam Deller, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, another author of the study.

Then using a supercomputer, they also analyzed the most minute changes in the position and shape of this radiation, managing to determine the orientation of neutron stars.

Comparing this data with the speed with which the galaxy containing these two neutron stars moved away from ours, they therefore performed a better measurement of the Hubble constant. The speed of the expansion of the universe is now estimated between 65.3 and 75.6 kilometers per second per megaparsec, a more precise measurement than previously calculated.

However, for researchers, the level of precision in this estimate is still not enough: they intend to insist on analyzing more collisions like the one they used for this study.

Small marine worm emits one of the ocean’s loudest noises

A small worm emits one of the loudest noises emitted by animals in the oceans, so strong that it could break even small glass vessels. The study analyzed the Leocratides kimuraorum, marine worms a little less than three cm long discovered for the first time in 2017.

These worms, which live in the small grooves of the hexattellellid sponges, were identified off the coast of Japan. But only when they were brought to the laboratory did the researchers discover the strangest feature related to these small animals. When they fight each other, they strangely contract their bodies by jumping “head down” towards the enemy.

This specific movement is the cause of the emission of a loud popping sound, similar to the noise emitted when ripping off the champagne. The researchers detected this municipality through specific underwater microphones. These are not the only small marine animals that produce such loud noises: even shrimps usually “snap” with their bodies but do so by quickly closing their claws.

The Leocratides kimuraorum, on the other hand, have no hard part because they boast a completely soft body. They simply manage to generate this loud noise through very high pressure by twisting the body which, at the simple contraction of the muscles, emits noise.

New detection system developed that analyzes gaze and detects autism

A new method to more effectively detect autism spectrum disorders in children has been developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo. The new method is based on the analytical and detailed observation of the gaze of children in front of people’s faces.

The researchers, who published their own study on Computers in Biology and Medicine, noticed that children with an autism spectrum disorder scan the face of people differently than children without autism.

In the course of the experiments, the researchers analyzed the reactions of 17 children with an autism spectrum disorder and 23 neurotypical children when they were shown photographs of faces on a screen. The eyes of the children were traced by a special infrared system that also analyzed the iris.

By analyzing how the children moved their eyes and scrutinized the faces as well as the ways in which the eye moved, the researchers were able to establish the presence of an autism spectrum disorder. It is a method that according to the authors could be very useful also because the current approaches, as specified by Mehrshad Sadria, one of the authors of the study, are not very suitable for children and are subject to errors.

“Our technique is not just about behavior or whether a child concentrates on the mouth or the eyes, but it is about how a child looks at everything,” says Anita Layton, professor of applied mathematics, pharmacy and biology at Waterloo and another author of the study.

Wind energy could supply 10 times the energy needs of the whole of Europe

According to a new study published in Energy, Europe could satisfy its need for electricity, up to 10 times, through the sole exploitation of wind energy.

Whilst aware that 100% of the electricity from wind power would not be possible for various social, economic and political reasons, the calculation that researchers made about onshore wind energy in Europe sees a potential level of generation of electricity of 34.3 PWh per year. This is a level higher than the highest estimate made by other scientists of 13 PWh per year.

According to the speakers of the article on Energy, this discrepancy would be explained by the methods used for identifying the land on which a wind power plant can be profitably built, as well as the methods used to identify other factors such as improvements in the technology sector. The technological improvements would concern above all the turbines used for wind power plants that will become much more efficient in the coming decades, something that will drastically change the results achieved in the wind sector.

Of course, this will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the use of fossil fuels.

The European Union intends to reduce these emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to the 1990 level, but to achieve these goals it will still require a huge shift towards renewable energy sources.

In any case, wind power seems to be one of those sectors that could be of greater help in this regard.

New super-hard and incompressible conductive material created

In a new study presented in Nature Communications a new, previously unknown material, rhenium nitride pernitride is described. According to researchers from the University of Bayreuth who developed it, this new material could prove very useful for technological applications.

It is, in fact, a super-hard metal conductor that the researchers were able to achieve by exploiting properties previously considered to be incompatible. The new material can withstand very high pressures so that it can be compared to a diamond.

This metallically conductive, super-hard and ultra-incompressible material was considered as impossible to realize because it is property, the ones that distinguish it, considered improbable if they must exist simultaneously in the same material. However, this new study shows that it was a misconception.

“We were able to do something that, according to previous forecasts, should not have been possible, stimulating and encouraging further theoretical and experimental work in the field of high-pressure material synthesis,” explains Leonid Dubrovinsky, one of the researchers involved in the work together with Natalia Dubrovinskaia.

There are hundreds of cases of sharks and fish caught in plastic

New research by scientists at the University of Exeter shows that there are hundreds of sharks and other marine animals including the breeds that have to withstand waste, often plastic, that get stuck in their bodies.

For example, the study considered the case of a mako shark found with a fishing rope wrapped tightly around its back. In this case, the shark had continued to grow and this had caused the rope to dig into his skin damaging its spine.

This waste, which can get caught in the body of fish, especially the larger ones, can cause pain, suffering and even the death of the animal, as noted by Kristian Parton, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation of Exeter, one of the authors of the study.

By reviewing various academic articles and reports on Twitter, the researchers found more than 600 cases of sharks and rays caught in plastic, very often fishing nets, in all the oceans of the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Indian Ocean.

Most of the objects that ended up entangled in the body of the fish consisted of phantom fishing gear, especially nets. There was no lack of other types of waste such as tire pieces, packaging waste or polyethylene bags.

The study was published in Endangered Species Research.

Two new species of parasitic wasps of Tibet classified in China

Two new species of parasitic wasps that live at an altitude of over 3400 meters in the Tibetan mountains have been described in an article published in ZooKeys.

The two new classifications were possible thanks to the study of two species originally collected in 2013 and preserved at the Insects Institute of the University of Agriculture and Fujianulture of Fujian, China.

The two species belong to the genus of the microplites, a genus belonging to the microgastrinae family. This family is composed of small parasitic wasps, black or brown: in fact, the eggs develop in the larvae of moths or butterflies.

Unlike other pests, in this case the larvae that host these small wasps continue to live until then the wasp eggs hatch. At that point, the small wasps begin to devour the organs of the host larvae assimilating all the body fluids and killing them.

The two new species of wasps, called Microplitis paizhensis and Microplitis bomiensis (the names of the species refer to the places where they were collected) populate grasslands and bushes at an altitude of more than 3400 meters in the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčTibet, something quite unusual for the microplite wasps.