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DAILY DOSE: Researchers closer to redefining what a second is; If mosquitoes love you, blame your smell.


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Scientists hope to use laser pulses beamed up to satellites and back down to other labs in order to redefine the second. The technical aspects of shooting the laser around have stumped researchers. They may have solved that problem. Per Nature,

Physicists have devised a way to synchronize the ticking of two clocks through the air with extreme precision, across a record distance of 113 kilometres.

The feat is a step towards redefining the second using optical clocks — timekeepers that are 100 times more precise than the atomic clocks on which coordinated universal time (UTC) is currently based.

Metrologists hope to use optical clocks to redefine the second in 2030. But a hurdle standing in their way is the need to find a reliable way to transmit signals between optical clocks in laboratories on different continents, to compare their outputs. In practice, this will probably mean transmitting the clocks’ time through air and space, to satellites. But this is a challenge because the atmosphere interferes with signals.

A team led by Jian-Wei Pan, a physicist at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, succeeded in sending precise pulses of laser light between clocks at stations 113 kilometres apart in China’s Xinjiang province. This is seven times the previous record of 16 kilometres.

Allow me to voice the thought we’re all thinking: I didn’t know you can redefine a second. Who knew? https://go.nature.com/3gil05W


By now, news that microbes have been discovered that shake up a commonly held consensus shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Well, it’s happened again. This one’s pretty impressive. Per Science,

A newly described bacterium is shaking up what it means to be a complex organism. The bizarre microbe, found by Japanese ecologists seeking biodegradable plastics, starts out as a single cell. But instead of remaining a single cell like most microbes, it then develops an organized body comprised of hundreds of cells. When the time is right, the cellular conglomeration shoots out a new generation of single cells to start this multicellular life cycle anew, acting much like plant that grows and produces seeds or a human that gives birth to babies.

The work “opens up a new lens to explore a new form of multicellularity,” says William Ratcliff, an evolutionary biologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology who was not involved with the work.

Of course, there are examples of other microbes banding together during a time of need such as cyanobacteria. That said, this is on a whole different level. https://bit.ly/3ETLV2d


The knock-on effects of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade continues to emerge. Per the Associated Press,

Students in obstetrics-gynecology and family medicine — two of the most popular medical residencies — face tough choices about where to advance their training in a landscape where legal access to abortion varies from state to state.

Abortions are typically performed by OB-GYNs or family doctors, and training generally involves observing and assisting in the procedure, often in outpatient clinics. Many doctors and students now worry about nonexistent or subpar training in states where clinics closed or abortion laws were otherwise tightened after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

In some cases, applicants who want to perform abortions as part of their career are pursuing residencies in states with more liberal reproductive laws and perhaps continuing their careers there, too — potentially setting up less permissive states for a shortage of OB-GYNs, observers said.

This is really worrying news and can actually end up costing womens’ lives. https://bit.ly/3VEs7px


Mosquitoes. They’re monsters. And for some people, this is terrible news because it means their misery will never end. Per the Associated Press,

A new study finds that some people really are “mosquito magnets” and it probably has to do with the way they smell.

The researchers found that people who are most attractive to mosquitoes produce a lot of certain chemicals on their skin that are tied to smell. And bad news for mosquito magnets: The bloodsuckers stay loyal to their favorites over time.

“If you have high levels of this stuff on your skin, you’re going to be the one at the picnic getting all the bites,” said study author Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University in New York.

Again, terrible news. https://bit.ly/3ESqhve


This is a really amazing story and shows how inter-disciplinary use of science has revolutionized other fields. Per Nature

A medieval parchment from a monastery in Egypt has yielded a surprising treasure. Hidden beneath Christian texts, scholars have discovered what seems to be part of the long-lost star catalogue of the astronomer Hipparchus — believed to be the earliest known attempt to map the entire sky.

Scholars have been searching for Hipparchus’s catalogue for centuries. James Evans, a historian of astronomy at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, describes the find as “rare” and “remarkable”. The extract is published online this week in the Journal for the History of Astronomy. Evans says it proves that Hipparchus, often considered the greatest astronomer of ancient Greece, really did map the heavens centuries before other known attempts. It also illuminates a crucial moment in the birth of science, when astronomers shifted from simply describing the patterns they saw in the sky to measuring and predicting them.

The manuscript came from the Greek Orthodox St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, but most of its 146 leaves, or folios, are now owned by the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. The pages contain the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a collection of Syriac texts written in the tenth or eleventh centuries. But the codex is a palimpsest: parchment that was scraped clean of older text by the scribe so that it could be reused.

More of this please! https://go.nature.com/3D9y06J

Thank for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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