Best of Last Week – Estimating black holes, a personable CyberDog, treating people with cerebral venous thrombosis

August 16, 2021 by Bob Yirka
black hole
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

It was another good week for space science, as a team with members from multiple institutions in the U.S. and the U.K. found that the size of black holes can be estimated by studying their eating patterns and some of the characteristic light-flickering patterns that occur in their timescale. Also, the team working on NASA's Dragonfly mission announced their plans for the first rotorcraft relocatable lander to be sent to Saturn's moon Titan, and they include looking for chemical biosignatures, studying the active methane cycle and looking into prebiotic chemistry. And a team at the University of Hong Kong found evidence that suggests NASA's Curiosity rover has been exploring surface sediments, not lake deposits, for the past eight years. They found that the sedimentary rocks studied by the rover may have been blown there by the wind.

In technology news, artificial intelligence research company OpenAI announced the development of an AI system that can translate natural language to programming code called Codex. The system is currently available as a free API. Also, Chinese electronics company Xiaomi unveiled CyberDog, a quadruped robot that the company describes as more personable than others in its class—and a lot cheaper. And a team at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering working with a group at Princeton University asked whether mobile providers were tracking user locations. And when they found that they might be, the researchers developed an app to stop it.

In other news, a combined team from Rady Children's Institute of Genomic Medicine and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine identified some of the human sperm mutations that can cause disease in children. And a team at Princeton University found that planting forests may cool the planet more than thought because of the denser cloud formations that develop over and around forests.

And finally, if you suffered an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, you may be interested in the results of a study conducted by a combined team from University College London and University College London Hospital .They found possible ways to treat people who experienced cerebral venous thrombosis following a COVID-19 vaccination.

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