Science This Week | 2022 Nobel Prize, evidence of liquid water on Mars and more

Here are this week’s latest findings and updates in the world of science.

Here are this week’s latest findings and updates in the world of science.

This week has been full of new discoveries and interesting research in the world of science. With the declaration of the winners for the 2022 Nobel Prizes in physical and life sciences, novel research and scientific endeavours have come to the forefront. Here is a look at some of the latest science news.

Winners of 2022 Nobel Prizes declared

On October 3, Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo has won the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physiology “for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominids and human evolution.” 

Dr Pääbo, through his research, has been able to successfully sequence the genome of the Neanderthal, an extinct relative of present-day humans. He also established a new scientific discipline called paleogenomics.

Physicists Alain Aspect, John F Clauser and Anton Zeilinger have been jointly awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on quantum mechanics. 

Their research included “experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities, and pioneering quantum information science.” Intense research and development are underway to utilise the special properties of individual particle systems to construct quantum computers, improve measurements, build quantum networks and establish secure quantum encrypted communication.

Another trio, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless, cinched the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for “an ingenious tool for building molecules.” 

The laureates were awarded for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry. Carolyn Bertozzi of Stanford University has taken click chemistry to a new dimension and started utilising it in living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell. 

Barry Sharpless and Morten Meldal laid the foundation for a functional form of chemistry – click chemistry – in which molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently.

Scientists find evidence of the first stars of the Universe

A group of scientists have analysed the clouds surrounding a distant quasar and found that the distinctive blend of heavy elements present therein could have come from thesupernova of a first-generation star, according to a new study

Scientists have theorised that these blasts might have seeded ancient interstellar space with the heavy elements needed for the formation of rocky worlds like our own — thus enabling life. 

New evidence for liquid water on Mars

An international team of researchers has found new evidence for the possible existence of liquid water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars. 

The results of the study provide the first independent line of evidence, using data other than radar, that there is liquid water beneath Mars’ south pole.

Asteroid that got smacked by NASA spacecraft leaves tail of debris

The Dimorphos asteroid that got smashed by NASA’s Dart spacecraft has been leaving behind a trail of debris from the impact. Astronomers captured the scene millions of miles away with a telescope in Chile. 

The image shows an expanding, comet-like tail more than 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) long, consisting of dust and other material spewed from the impact crater.

ISRO’s Mangalyaan Mission comes to an end

On 3 October, ISRO confirmed that the Mars Orbiter craft has lost communication with the ground station, thus putting the Mangalyaan Mission to an end. 

Despite being designed for a life-span of six months as a technology demonstrator, the MOM has lived for about eight years in the Martian orbit collecting a gamut of significant scientific data on Mars as well as on the Solar corona.

New residents arrive at the International Space Station

SpaceX has delivered a fresh crew to the International Space Station, including NASA’s Marine Col. Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman in space. She was accompanied byJapanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, NASA astronaut Navy Capt. Josh Cassada and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina— the first Russian to launch from the U.S. in 20 years. 

Tiny reptile may finally provide answers about the evolution of Pterosaurs

A fresh examination of remains found in Scotland of a small reptile that lived about 230 million years ago during the Triassic Period is helping shed light on the humble origins of pterosaurs. The 8-inch-long reptile is a close cousin of the pterosaurs and belongs to a group called Lagerpetids.

Pterosaurs were Earth’s first flying vertebrates, followed by birds which appeared about 150 million years ago and bats about 50 million years ago.

Dinosaur-killing asteroid created massive tsunamis

The huge asteroid that crashed into Earth 66 million years ago and killed the dinosaurs also caused a gigantic tsunami, a new study said. The monstrous tsunami with mile-high waves scoured the ocean floor thousands of miles from the impact site on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. 

This tsunami was strong enough to disturb and erode sediments in ocean basins halfway around the globe, leaving either a gap in sedimentary records or a jumble of older sediments.

Scientists reach the tallest tree ever found in Amazon

Scientists have finally reached the tallest tree found in the Amazon rainforest. The 25-storey tall tree was found by the scientists after three years, five expeditions and a two-week trek through dense jungle. 

The giant tree, whose top juts out high above the canopy in the Iratapuru River Nature Reserve in northern Brazil, is an Angelim vermelho (scientific name:  Dinizia excelsa) measuring 88.5 meters (290 feet) in height, with a circumference of 9.9 meters (32 feet) —the biggest ever identified in the Amazon.

Stunning footage of orcas hunting a great-white shark captured for the first time

A helicopter and a drone captured footage of group of orcas or killer whales battling a great white shark in the harbour of Mossel Bay, South Africa. 

Though orcas have been known to hunt the great whites, this is the first time such a battle has never been filmed. 

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