Best of Last Week–Proving Einstein right again, a drug that stops cancer from spreading and video game playing danger

June 25, 2018 by Bob Yirka
VLT makes most precise test of Einstein's general relativity outside Milky Way
An image of the nearby galaxy ESO 325-G004, created using data collected by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the MUSE instrument on the VLT. MUSE measured the velocity of stars in ESO 325-G004 to produce the velocity dispersion map that is overlaid on top of the Hubble Space Telescope image. Knowledge of the velocities of the stars allowed the astronomers to infer the mass of ESO 325-G004. The inset shows the Einstein ring resulting from the distortion of light from a more distant source by intervening lens ESO 325-004, which becomes visible after subtraction of the foreground lens light. Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, NASA

It was another good week for astronomy and astrophysics as an international team of researchers reported that they had found the last of the universe's missing ordinary matter—in the space between galaxies. And it exists, they report, as filaments of oxygen gas at very hot temperatures. And a team working at the ESA's XMM-Newton observatory captured the best ever evidence of a rare black hole—a medium-weight black hole in the process of tearing apart a nearby star. Also, an international team reported on how they had made the most precise test of gravity outside of our solar system and in so doing proved Einstein right in another galaxy.

It was also a good week for technology as a team at the University of Michigan announced that they had created the world's smallest 'computer'—at just 0.3mm on each side, it is smaller than a grain of sand. And a team with members from the University of Rochester and the University of Hong Kong created a device where laser bursts generated electricity faster than any other method—part of a response to a challenge by the U.S. Department of Energy for scientists to control matter at the level of electrons. Also, a team of engineers at MIT announced that they had built a smart power outlet that overcomes problems with nuisance trips.

In other news, a team at the University of Western Ontario used light in an unconventional way to uncover lost images from the 19th century. Their work helped reveal images captured on daguerreotypes that had been gradually obscured over time. And an international team of researchers announced that they had discovered a drug compound that stops cancer cells from spreading. Also, a team at the University of Cambridge solved the mystery of what causes the sound of a dripping tap—and showed how to stop it.

And finally, if you are one of the millions who play video games obsessively (or have kids who do), you might want to take note of a statement by the World Health Organization, they have declared that compulsive video-game playing could be a mental health problem and have revised their disease classification manual to reflect that.

© 2018

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