Best of Last Week: Predicting Schrodinger cat jumps, solving a solar cell defect, boosting gut biome to improve health

June 10, 2019 by Bob Yirka
Yale researchers have found a way to catch and save Schrödinger's famous cat, the symbol of quantum superposition and unpredictability. Credit: Kat Stockton

It was a good week for physics as a team at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias announced that they had solved the mystery of the galaxy with no dark matter. They showed that the galaxy is actually much closer to Earth than astronomers thought, which means that it does conform to theory. And a team at Yale University showed that it was possible to predict the jumps of Schrodinger's cat (and finally save it)—a potential major advance in understanding and controlling quantum information. Also, an international team of astrophysicists created the most detailed-ever simulations of black holes—and used them to solve a longstanding mystery.

In technology news, an international team of researchers announced that a solar cell defect mystery has been solved after decades of global effort—they noted also that a simple engineering effort should be able to fix it. Also a combined team from the University of California and Princeton University reported on their work involving infusing machine learning models with inductive biases to capture human behavior. And a team at North Carolina State University announced that they had developed a metal foam that could stop .50 caliber rounds, as well as steel at less than half the weight.

In other news, a team led by a group at RMIT University found that bees can link symbols to numbers—shedding light on how numerical abilities may have evolved over millennia. And a study led by scientists at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute showed that red and white meats are equally bad for cholesterol—both lead to an increase in blood cholesterol levels. And an international team of researchers found that there is a limit to human endurance—and claim it is bounded by how many calories our guts can effectively absorb per day.

And finally, if you are one of the millions around the globe who are part of the aging population, you might be interested in taking a look at research done by a team at the Babraham Institute—they looked into whether boosting the gut microbiome could be the secret to a healthier older age, and found evidence that it could.

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