Best of Last Week–Temperate planets found, gigantic ancient monster worm and creativity linked to well-connected brain

February 27, 2017 by Bob Yirka recap
The friction-like change in momentum discovered in the new study can be modeled by a moving device that emits photons in opposite directions. An observer can measure the photon frequencies, and using the Doppler effect, will calculate a change in momentum but no change in velocity. Credit: Sonnleitner et al. ©2017 American Physical Society

(ScienceX)—It was a good week for physics as a team with the University of Glasgow revisited the question: Is there friction in a vacuum? They report that they found the missing puzzle piece in a bit of extra mass called the "mass defect." Also, a team working on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope project reported that they had found possible dark matter ties in the Andromeda galaxy—a signal at its center.

It was also obviously a very big week for space news as an international team of researchers studying the TRAPPIST-1 star system reported that they found temperate Earth-sized worlds in an extraordinarily rich planetary system—seven planets in all, with three in the so-called "Goldilocks zone." There was also big news in the U.S., as NASA announced that it is weighing the risk of adding a crew to its megarocket's first flight—also known as the Space Launch System, the rocket that will eventually carry astronauts to Mars. And a team studying data from Hubble created a time-lapse animated video offering the dawn of a new era for Supernova 1987a—imagery that shows the supernova before, during and after its explosion back in 1987. Also, a team with the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias monitored radio emissions to listen to galaxies sing when forming stars—in the 1-10 Gigahertz frequency range.

In other news, a combined team of researchers with the University of Bristol, Lund University and the Royal Ontario Museum reported that a 400-million-year-old gigantic extinct monster worm was discovered in a Canadian museum—the previously undiscovered species also had giant snapping jaws. A team at the University of Southern California found evidence that suggested a fast-mimicking diet may reverse diabetes—their study showed it actually promoted the growth of new pancreatic cells in mice. And a team with the University of Utah announced that they had found a compound from a marine snail that was a potent pain reliever—possibly offering an alternative to opioids.

And finally, if you are the imaginative sort, you might want to thank the people in your family tree for it for providing you with a well-connected brain. A pair of researchers, David Dunson with Duke University and Daniele Durante with the University of Padova found that creative people have better-connected brains.

Explore further: Temperate earth-sized worlds found in extraordinarily rich planetary system (Update)