The space rock that doomed the dinosaurs was shrapnel from a comet that flew too close to the sun, a Harvard study suggests

businessinsider.com – The origin of the space rock that killed the dinosaurs has been a mystery. A new study suggests it wasn't an asteroid, but a comet fragment.

Source: Amir Siraj, Abraham Loeb. Breakup of a long-period comet as the origin of the dinosaur extinction. Scientific Reports, 2021.

You can spread COVID-19 by talking in hair salons or during a massage — even while wearing a mask, research suggests

businessinsider.com – Talking expels viral particles that gravity could carry from person to person. Employees standing or leaning over clients might infect them.

Source: Keiko Ishii, Yoshiko Ohno, Maiko Oikawa, Noriko Onishi. Relationship between human exhalation diffusion and posture in face-to-face scenario with utterance. Physics of Fluids, 2021.

Researchers want to use whale song for seismic imaging of the Earth’s crust

zmescience.com – If we'd listen to whales more carefully, we could learn more about the oceans' geology.

Source: Václav M. Kuna, John L. Nábělek. Seismic crustal imaging using fin whale songs. Science, 2021.

Extremists struggle with certain kinds of brain processing, research shows

livescience.com – Extremists and dogmatists struggle with certain kinds of cognitive processing, but they also tend to be impulsive and risk-loving.

Source: Leor Zmigrod, Ian W. Eisenberg, Patrick G. Bissett, Trevor W. Robbins, Russell A. Poldrack. The cognitive and perceptual correlates of ideological attitudes: a data-driven approach. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2021.

A 3rd shot? A new booster? Vaccine makers race to trials to beat variants

arstechnica.com – Could a 3rd shot of current COVID vaccines be enough to thwart variants?

Source: Yang Liu, et al. Neutralizing Activity of BNT162b2-Elicited Serum — Preliminary Report. New England Journal of Medicine, 2021.

A 3rd shot? A new booster? Vaccine makers race to trials to beat variants

arstechnica.com – Could a 3rd shot of current COVID vaccines be enough to thwart variants?

Source: Kai Wu, et al. Serum Neutralizing Activity Elicited by mRNA-1273 Vaccine — Preliminary Report. New England Journal of Medicine, 2021.

Chip simplifies COVID-19 testing, delivers results on a phone

eurekalert.org – Programmed magnetic nanobeads paired with an off-the-shelf cellphone and plug-in diagnostic tool can diagnose COVID-19 in 55 minutes or less.

Source: Jiran Li, Peter B. Lillehoj. Microfluidic Magneto Immunosensor for Rapid, High Sensitivity Measurements of SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid Protein in Serum. ACS Sensors, 2021.

Plastic bottles holding 2.3 litres are least harmful to the planet

newscientist.com – Plastic bottles with a capacity of 2.3 litres contain the most liquid for the lowest packaging weight and could reduce plastic waste by thousands of tonnes per year

Source: R. Becerril-Arreola, R. E. Bucklin. Beverage bottle capacity, packaging efficiency, and the potential for plastic waste reduction. Scientific Reports, 2021.

Scientists describe earliest primate fossils

eurekalert.org – A new study published Feb. 24, 2021 in the journal Royal Society Open Science documents the earliest-known fossil evidence of primates. These creatures lived less than 150,000 years after the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event that killed off non-avian dinosaurs and saw the rise of mammals.

Source: Gregory P. Wilson Mantilla, et al. Earliest Palaeocene purgatoriids and the initial radiation of stem primates. Royal Society Open Science, 2021.

Among Ecuador's Shuar, Oregon researchers find how disgust evolved as a human emotion

eurekalert.org – When the pungent smell of rotting food sends a person running, that disgusted feeling is an evolved response that helps avoid exposure to pathogens, say University of Oregon anthropologists. In a project that blended anthropology, biology and psychology, researchers explored disgust behaviors among Ecuador's indigenous Shuar people.

Source: Tara J. Cepon-Robins, et al. Pathogen disgust sensitivity protects against infection in a high pathogen environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021.