Best of Last Week: Collision that made life on Earth possible, flying car prototype and muscle memory not really so lost
It was a good week for space science as an international team of researchers reported on their efforts to reveal the black hole at the heart of the galaxy using an array of telescopes—they found that emissions from Sagittarius A* originate from a smaller region of space than thought. Also, a team at Rice University found evidence that suggested the planetary collision that formed the moon made life possible on Earth. Their high-pressure, high-temperature experiments showed it was likely that Earth's essential elements came from another planet. And a team with members from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Cinvestav described testing Hawking radiation in laboratory black hole analogues—using light pulses in nonlinear fiber optics. Also, an international team used split images of quasars to produce a new estimate of the Hubble constant—hoping to determine a definitive number to describe how fast the universe is expanding.
It was also a good week for technology as a group at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering used nanotechnology to weld a previously un-weldable aluminum alloy—possibly opening the door for its use in major manufacturing applications. Also, a combined team of researchers from Imperial College and University College London announced that they had developed a machine learning method to identify fake honey—the hope is that it can be used to reduce counterfeiting. And a Boeing flying car prototype completed its first test flight.
In other news, a combined team of researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide found that on Facebook and Twitter, your privacy is at risk—even if you don't have an account. And a team led by geneticists at University College London conducted a genetic study that provided novel insights into the evolution of skin color.
And finally, if you, like millions of others, have lost muscle mass due to inactivity, it might be easier to regain it than you've been thinking—researchers at the University of Michigan made a discovery that may end the "use it or lose it" dogma. They reported that nuclei gained during training persist even when muscle cells shrink due to disuse or start to break down.
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