Best of Last Week – Bread made before agriculture started, a telomere breakthrough and shortcomings of omega-3
It was a good week for historical science as a team with members from the University of Copenhagen, University College London and the University of Cambridge discovered the charred remains of bread that predates agriculture by 4,000 years—and possibly offers clues regarding initial cultivation of cereals. And a team with the University of Utah reported on a newly discovered armored dinosaur from Utah that revealed an intriguing family history—it looked similar to dinosaurs uncovered in Asia. And a team at the University of Alberta announced the first fossilized snake embryo ever discovered and suggested the find will rewrite the history of ancient snakes.
It was a good week for technology, as well, as a team at Cornell University announced that they had developed an electron microscope detector that achieves record resolution—and does away with special aberration correctors. Also, a team at Stanford University announced that they had moved closer to a completely optical artificial neural network by demonstrating that it is possible to train an artificial neural network directly on an optical chip. And a team at Tsinghua University announced that they had built a hybrid device that harvests both mechanical and magnetic energy from ambient wasted energy.
In other news, a team with members from Vanderbilt University and Argonne National Laboratory found that safe solid-state lithium batteries heralded a "paradigm shift" in energy storage, due to recent advances in the use of a solid non-flammable ceramic electrolyte known as garnet. Also, a team in Australia announced that they had made a breakthrough that could impact cancer, aging and heart disease involving telomere biology—they suggest its structure, not its length, is what is important. And a team from the University of Wisconsin and Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced that they had developed an eagle-eyed algorithm that outdoes human experts in detecting and analyzing microscopic-scale radiation damage to materials under consideration for nuclear reactors
And finally, if you are one of the millions around the world talking omega-3 as a dietary supplement hoping it will help you avoid heart problems, you might be fooling yourself, as a team in the U.K. found that omega-3 supplements have little or no heart or vascular health benefit.
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