Just 7% of our DNA is unique to modern humans, study shows

A study published Friday in the journal Science Advances shows that just a sliver of our genome is uniquely shared with other humans, and not shared by other extinct groups like Neanderthals and Denisovans

What makes humans unique? Scientists have taken another step toward solving an enduring mystery with a new tool that may allow for more precise comparisons between the DNA of modern humans and that of our extinct ancestors.

Just 7% of our genome is uniquely shared with other humans, and not shared by other early ancestors, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

“That’s a pretty…


Rare stone discovered outlining ancient Rome's city limits

Archaeologists have discovered a rare stone delineating the city limits of ancient Rome that dates from the age of Emperor Claudius in 49 A.D. and was found during excavations for a new sewage system.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi was on hand for the unveiling Friday of the pomerial stone, a huge slab of travertine that was used as a sacred, military and political perimeter marking the edge of the city proper with Rome’s outer territory.

It was found June 17 during excavations for a rerouted sewer under the recently restored mausoleum of Emperor Augustus, right off the central Via del Corso in…


Making clean hydrogen is hard, but researchers just solved a major hurdle

Researchers have found a low-cost way to solve one half of the water-splitting equation to produce hydrogen as clean energy — using sunlight to efficiently split off oxygen molecules from water. The finding represents a step forward toward greater adoption of hydrogen as a key part of our energy infrastructure

For decades, researchers around the world have searched for ways to use solar power to generate the key reaction for producing hydrogen as a clean energy source — splitting water molecules to form hydrogen and oxygen. However, such efforts have mostly failed because doing it well was too costly, and trying…


A bug's life: Millimeter-tall mountains on neutron stars

New models of neutron stars show that their tallest mountains may be only fractions of millimeters high, due to the huge gravity on the ultra-dense objects. The research is presented today at the National Astronomy Meeting 2021.

Neutron stars are some of the densest objects in the Universe: they weigh about as much as the Sun, yet measure only around 10km across, similar in size to a large city.

Because of their compactness, neutron stars have an enormous gravitational pull around a billion times stronger than the Earth. This squashes every feature on the surface to miniscule dimensions, and means that the…


Scientists solve 40-year mystery over Jupiter's X-ray aurora

Researchers combined close-up observations of Jupiter’s environment by NASA’s satellite Juno, which is currently orbiting the planet, with simultaneous X-ray measurements from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton observatory (which is in Earth’s own orbit). The X-rays are part of Jupiter’s aurora — bursts of visible and invisible light that occur when charged particles interact with the planet’s atmosphere. A similar phenomenon occurs on Earth, creating the northern lights, but Jupiter’s is much more powerful, releasing hundreds of gigawatts of energy, enough to briefly power all of human civilization.

A research team co-led by UCL (University College London) has solved a decades-old…


Longest known continuous record of the Paleozoic discovered in Yukon wilderness

Expeditions to a remote area of Yukon, Canada, have uncovered a 120-million-year-long geological record of a time when land plants and complex animals first evolved and ocean oxygen levels began to approach those in the modern world.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, in the middle of what would eventually become Canada’s Yukon Territory, an ocean swirled with armored trilobites, clam-like brachiopods and soft, squishy creatures akin to slugs and squid.

A trove of fossils and rock layers formed on that ancient ocean floor have now been unearthed by an international team of scientists along the banks of the Peel River a…


Goldilocks planets 'with a tilt' may develop more complex life

Planets which are tilted on their axis, like Earth, are more capable of evolving complex life. This finding will help scientists refine the search for more advanced life on exoplanets. This NASA-funded research is presented at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference.

Since the first discovery of exoplanets (planets orbiting distant stars) in 1992, scientists have been looking for worlds that might support life. It is believed that to sustain even basic life, exoplanets need to be at just the right distance from their stars to allow liquid water to exist; the so-called “Goldilocks zone.” However, for more advanced life, other factors are…


The pressure is off and high temperature superconductivity remains

As room temperature superconductivity (RTS) has been reported recently in hydrides at megabar pressures, the grand challenge in superconductivity research and development is no longer restricted to further increasing the superconducting transition temperature under extreme conditions and must now include concentrated efforts to lower, and better yet remove, the applied pressure required.

In a critical next step toward room-temperature superconductivity at ambient pressure, Paul Chu, Founding Director and Chief Scientist at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH), Liangzi Deng, research assistant professor of physics at TcSUH, and their colleagues at TcSUH conceived and developed a…


Changes in Earth's orbit enabled the emergence of complex life

‘Snowball Earth’ is the most extreme climate event in Earth’s history, when it was completely engulfed in ice. The theory of its existence has faced two challenges — how life survived and variations in rock formations from the time implying changes to the climate cycle. New study shows that changes to Earth’s orbit caused the ice sheets to advance and retreat, providing ice-free ‘oases’ for animal life and explaining variations in rock formations.

Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered that changes in Earth’s orbit may have allowed complex life to emerge and thrive during the most hostile climate episode…


Methane in the plumes of Saturn's moon Enceladus: Possible signs of life?

An unknown methane-producing process is likely at work in the hidden ocean beneath the icy shell of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, suggests a new study published in Nature Astronomy by scientists at the University of Arizona and Paris Sciences & Lettres University.

Giant water plumes erupting from Enceladus have long fascinated scientists and the public alike, inspiring research and speculation about the vast ocean that is believed to be sandwiched between the moon’s rocky core and its icy shell. Flying through the plumes and sampling their chemical makeup, the Cassini spacecraft detected a relatively high concentration of certain molecules associated with hydrothermal…

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