Tuesday, January 8, 2019

First Data Received from New Horizon’s Ultima Thule Flyby

    On New Year’s Day, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft famous for its Pluto flyby in 2015 flew by the farthest-ever reached object by humankind. Now after a few days, NASA is receiving the first data from this historic flyby of Ultima Thule, also known as Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69.
    Amongst the things received from New Horizons is the first resolved photos of Ultima Thule. These images reveal a 33 kilometre (21 mile-long) “contact binary” body composed of two roughly spherical lobes. These lobes are red and their icy surface is likely discoloured by deep-space radiation. The process that created this colour is likely responsible for the similar reddish hue visible on Pluto’s surface and the northern parts of its largest moon Charon.
    Ultima Thule is a remnant of the early solar system. Countless objects similar to Ultima Thule coalesced to form the solar system’s planets. However this did not happen to Ultima Thule, which has stayed in pristine condition for eons in the cold Kuiper Belt.
    "We think what we're looking at it is perhaps the most primitive object that has yet been seen by any spacecraft, and may represent a class of objects which are the oldest and most primitive objects that can be seen anywhere in the present solar system," said Jeff Moore from NASA’s Ames Research Center during a New Years Day news conference.

Read more about this fascinating story at: https://www.space.com/42878-ultima-thule-new-horizons-first-color-photo.html

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Oncolytic Virus that Targets Cancer Cells and Associated Tissues

 Researchers from the University of Oxford and PsiOxus Therapeutics have successfully nourished a virus that specifically targets and kills cancer cells to synthesize a peptide linker (a protein). Specifically, this protein finds and binds cells that are specifically toxic to cancer-associated connective tissue together in order to remove these supportive fibres.
 The microenvironment surrounding tumours provides physical support for cancer to grow and reside within. Building blocks of this environment are usually the cells themselves or their components, such as blood vessels, extracellular matrices, and immune cells. The newly adapted virus tracks, replicates in and kills the cancer cells through a process called oncosis or the swelling and destruction of the cell membrane. Furthermore, the cell death causes the release of T cells (toxic to the tumor microenvironment), which target the structural skeleton of the tumor and allow for a more efficient cancer treatment.
 In the future, findings like this will allow oncologists to apply more efficient approaches to treating cancer, such as immunotherapy, with the help of the newly developed oncolytic viruses.

Read the full study here:

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New Theory Brings Light to Dark Energy and Expanding Universe

Image Credit: Suvendu Giri     

     According to a recent study published in the journal Physical Review Letter, Dr. Souvik Banerjee and co-authors, Uppsala University Sweden, formulated an updated theory to the mysterious, exponential expansion of our universe.

     Back in the 1990s, the universe was not only discovered to be expanding at an exponential rate, but that space was not actually empty. In fact, it was established from a substance called dark energy.

     Shortly after, string theory was developed to explain this discovery. It was said that there were more than three dimensions as well as all matter being consisting of tiny, vibrating ‘string like’ entities.

     Quote from Dr. Souvik Banerjee, “for 15 years, there have been models in string theory that have been thought to give rise to dark energy.”

     However, according to the new journal, both dark energy and the entire universe are riding on an expanding bubble. This is found in an extra dimension, where the universe is found on the bubble’s edge.

     Furthermore, all known and existing matter in the universe coincides to the ends of the strings that expand out into the extra dimension.

     Quote from Dr. Souvik Banerjee, “it is conceivable that there are more bubbles than ours, corresponding to other universes.”

Read more about this fascinating story at: www.sci-news.com

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Year in Review: Top 9 Photos

As this year comes to a close, we’d like to share our top nine photos of the year. Thank you to all of our viewers who have stuck with us this past year. Whether you are a casual reader or a devoted fan, we give our heartfelt appreciation to you. Happy New Year from all of us at the News of the Universe Team and we wish you a blessed 2019.

This Year in Computers: 2018

To round off the end of the year, this article will explore some of the most prominent events that affected computers this year.

Spectre and Meltdown

This year in computers started with a great scare when two exploits were found within almost every computer system in the world, including desktops, laptops, smartphones, and servers. These exploits were called Spectre and Meltdown.

            Spectre and Meltdown were first discovered by Project Zero, a team of security analysts at Google, in June 2017. Project Zero immediately informed CPU manufacturers Intel, AMD, and ARM of these exploits. The exploits dealt with how CPUs communicated their data. Spectre read virtual memory by tricking a CPU’s speculative execution, and Meltdown attacked a computer’s virtual memory by breaking it down through side-channels. Both these exploits allowed access to virtually every piece of data that passes through the CPU, including login information.

            Since then, software patches have been released by every operating system (OS) vendor to ensure that everyone’s data is secure. In addition, all new CPUs have mitigations incorporated against the exploits. As a result, CPUs are now slower due to having to limit how they manage their virtual memory and cache.

To learn more about Spectre and Meltdown, visit: meltdownattack.com

The Rise of AMD

The American multinational semiconductor company, AMD, grew significantly in terms of market share this year. AMD’s market share continues to rise as Intel’s market share declines. AMD stock prices began the year at around $10.25, jumped to $33, growing 175% in shares between March and September. The price was set to end the year at roughly $17.

This rise was due to the release of the Ryzen processor last year, and the releases of the Ryzen 2 and Threadripper 2 processors this year. Ryzen 2 CPUs were especially popular amongst consumers and were known for having lower prices and better multi-core processing than regular Intel CPUs. AMD has also announced hardware partnering with Microsoft and Sony in the future.

The Fall of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

Last year saw significant growth in the popularity of cryptocurrency mining. Cryptocurrency mining is when machines record and validate transactions made by users. Miners connect to a large networking software and use their computing power to hash transactions. GPUs are frequently used to mine cryptocurrency due to their optimized systems, which are designed to make quick calculations, thus increasing the speed of mining. This made new GPUs harder to find and increased their prices exponentially.

As a mining boom began, more people began mining, which decreased the amount mined per person. Once the boom ended, people began selling GPUs in an attempt to offset the immense start-up costs, which saturated the GPU market and decreased prices. The value of bitcoin dropped significantly this year, starting off at $15, 790 USD per bitcoin, and closing at roughly $4,000 USD per bitcoin.

RTX Raytracing Graphics

There is still minimal consumer support for ray tracing graphics, a new image rendering technique. Currently, ray tracing is generally only useful for content producers, as many image rendering and video rendering software do support it.

RTX cards, Nvidia’s newest line of graphics cards, are much more expensive than its previous line. The cards have also sacrificed performance for ray tracing abilities. Arguably, the only card in this line that has stepped up its performance from its predecessor is the RTX 2080 Ti, at a list price of $1199. In comparison, its predecessor, the GTX 1080 Ti had a list price of $699.

As a result, many consumers have turned away from Nvidia. This year, Nvidia stocks began at roughly $194, and are set to end at only $127, due to a sharp decline when RTX Graphics Cards were released in October.

Image sourced from: TechRadar,  PCGames, Internet of Business, CTBlog

Sunday, December 30, 2018

New Study on DNA Replication Reveals how DNA Times its Replication

Despite over a century of research on molecular genetics, many mysteries still remain. Researchers today, though, have discovered details surrounding how DNA times its replication.

"It's been quite a mystery," said David Gilbert, a molecular biologist from Florida State University. "Replication seemed resilient to everything we tried to do to perturb it. We've described it in detail, shown it changes in different cell types and that it is disrupted in disease.
"But until now, we couldn't find that final piece, the control elements or the DNA sequences that control it."
In order to figure out how the timing of DNA replication works, Gilbert, along with his team, used CRISPR to cut mouse chromosomes in order to find the factors affecting timing. CRISPR was used to target, switch, or cut out different structures within mouse embryonic stem cells. At first, the team focused on the binding sites for a protein called CCCTC-C binding factor (CTCF), but it was soon realized that this had little effect on the timing. By using a high resolution 3D analysis of the contact sites that the DNA was making with itself, the team identified key spots outside of CTCF associated boundaries. When breaking these spots, the timing of replication was thrown off.
Further research on the timing of replication may lead to breakthroughs in health and pathology research. Specifically, the processes that cause certain diseases.

“We've come a long way since the physicist Erwin Schrödinger delivered his prediction of an 'aperiodic crystal' that could explain the replication of a cell using little more than the physics of basic chemistry, ” said Gilbert.
Read more about this fascinating story at: https://www.sciencealert.com/new-study-solves-the-decades-old-mystery-on-how-dna-manages-its-own-replication