Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest sun-like star

sciencedaily.com – Astronomers have discovered four Earth-sized planets orbiting the nearest sun-like star, tau Ceti, which is about 12 light years away and visible to the naked eye. These planets have masses as low as 1.7 Earth mass, making them among the smallest planets ever detected around nearby sun-like stars. Two of them are super-Earths located in the habitable zone of the star, meaning they could support liquid surface water.

Source: Fabo Feng, et al. Color difference makes a difference: four planet candidates around tau Ceti. arXiv, 2017.

A new discovery on Mars could change future missions

businessinsider.com – Researchers now say it's highly likely that extreme temperature changes on Mars trigger snow storms at night on the planet's surface.

Source: Aymeric Spiga, et al. Snow precipitation on Mars driven by cloud-induced night-time convection. Nature Geoscience, 2017.

Now There’s a VR Rig for Lab Animals

technologyreview.com – How do you study the way zebrafish translate visual cues into movement, or whether mice are afraid of heights?

Source: John R Stowers, et al. Virtual reality for freely moving animals. Nature Methods, 2017.

No coding experience needed! MIT’s robot-building software is foolproof

digitaltrends.com – Researchers from MIT developed software called “Interactive Robogami,” allowing users to quickly design and 3D print robots.

Source: Adriana Schulz, et al. Interactive robogami: An end-to-end system for design of robots with ground locomotion. The International Journal of Robotics Research, 2017.

MUSE Observations of ‘Jellyfish’ Galaxies Reveal New Way to Fuel Supermassive Black Holes

sci-news.com – An international research team, led by Dr. Bianca Poggianti of the INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Padova, has used the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope to study how gas can be stripped from so-called ‘jellyfish’ galaxies -- galaxies with long ‘tentacles’ of material that extend for dozens of thousands of light-years beyond their galactic disks.

Source: Bianca M. Poggianti, et al. Ram-pressure feeding of supermassive black holes. Nature, 2017.

New Evidence for That Huge Dinosaur Family Tree Rewrite

discovermagazine.com – Researchers follow up a controversial paper rewriting the dinosaur family tree with a reanalysis of an unusual South American dinosaur.

Source: Matthew G. Baron, Paul M. Barrett. A dinosaur missing-link? Chilesaurus and the early evolution of ornithischian dinosaurs. Biology Letters, 2017.

Cryptographers and Geneticists Unite to Analyze Genomes They Can't See

sciam.com – Computer-security methods could help scientists identify disease-causing genes—while preserving patient privacy

Source: Karthik A. Jagadeesh, David J. Wu, Johannes A. Birgmeier, Dan Boneh, Gill Bejerano. Deriving genomic diagnoses without revealing patient genomes. Science, 2017.

Sugars in Breast Milk Kill Pathogenic Bacteria: Study

the-scientist.com – Oligosaccharides from one mom wiped out a Group B Strep colony in culture.

Source: Dorothy L. Ackerman, et al. Human Milk Oligosaccharides Exhibit Antimicrobial and Antibiofilm Properties against Group B Streptococcus. ACS Infectious Diseases, 2017.

Giant Plankton May Help Move Plastic Pollution to Sea Floor

the-scientist.com – Researchers show that pinkie-size marine organisms can ingest and poop out microplastics, potentially transporting them to the depths.

Source: Kakani Katija, C. Anela Choy, Rob E. Sherlock, Alana D. Sherman, Bruce H. Robison. From the surface to the seafloor: How giant larvaceans transport microplastics into the deep sea. Science Advances, 2017.

Scientists make healthy sperm in the lab, raising hope for those suffering from genetic male infertility

zmescience.com – They started from a mouse's ear tissue cells, which they eventually turned into healthy sperm.

Source: Takayuki Hirota, et al. Fertile offspring from sterile sex chromosome trisomic mice. Science, 2017.