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The Brighter 5: Top 5 science discoveries on Feb 24, 2021

[Feb. 24, 2021: Joseph Shavit]




5. Materials scientists show way to make durable artificial tendons from improved hydrogels


UCLA materials scientists and their colleagues have developed a new method to make synthetic biomaterials that mimic the internal structure, stretchiness, strength and durability of tendons and other biological tissues.


The researchers developed a two-pronged process to enhance the strength of existing hydrogels that could be used to create artificial tendons, ligaments, cartilage that are 10 times tougher than the natural tissues. Although the hydrogels contain mostly water with little solid content (about 10% polymer), they are more durable than Kevlar and rubber, which are both 100% polymer. This kind of breakthrough has never been achieved in water-laden polymers until this study, which was recently published in Nature. The new hydrogels could also provide coating for implanted or wearable medical devices to improve their fit, comfort and long-term performance... READ MORE



4. Researchers realize the first quantum-logic computer operation between two separate quantum modules in different laboratories


Today's quantum computers contain up to several dozen memory and processing units, the so-called qubits. Severin Daiss, Stefan Langenfeld, and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have successfully interconnected two such qubits located in different labs to a distributed quantum computer by linking the qubits with a 60-meter-long optical fiber. Over such a distance they realized a quantum-logic gate - the basic building block of a quantum computer. It makes the system the worldwide first prototype of a distributed quantum computer.


Quantum computers are considerably different from traditional "binary" computers: Future realizations of them are expected to easily perform specific calculations for which traditional computers would take months or even years - for example in the field of data encryption and decryption. The more qubits there are interconnected in a quantum computer; the more complex calculations it can perform.


Team leader and institute director Gerhard Rempe believes the result will allow to further advance the technology. It could enable, for instance, to build a distributed quantum computer consisting of many modules with few qubits that are interconnected with the newly introduced method. This approach could circumvent the limitation of existing quantum computers to integrate more qubits into a single setup and could therefore allow more powerful systems... READ MORE



3. New technique shows promise in preventing recurrent stroke


A surgical procedure advanced and studied by vascular neurosurgeons at Cedars-Sinai dramatically reduced the rate of recurrent strokes among patients with atherosclerotic disease, a new study shows.


Atherosclerotic disease, also known as hardening of the arteries, is a buildup of plaque that narrows the arteries leading to the brain. The condition is known to increase patients' risk of having a series of strokes.


Exciting new results from a Phase II clinical trial conducted at Cedars-Sinai demonstrated that a new procedure reduced recurrent stroke rates from 37% to 10.7%. Encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis, or EDAS for short, is a new procedure that was used and recently published in the journal Neurosurgery... READ MORE



2. Scientists begin building highly accurate digital twin of our planet


To become climate neutral by 2050, the European Union launched the "Destination Earth" initiative, which will start in mid-2021 and is expected to run for up to ten years. During this period, a highly accurate digital model of the Earth is to be created, a digital twin of the Earth, to map climate development and extreme events as accurately as possible in space and time.


Observational data will be continuously incorporated into the digital twin in order to make the digital Earth model more accurate for monitoring the evolution and predict possible future trajectories. But in addition to the observation data conventionally used for weather and climate simulations, the researchers also want to integrate new data on relevant human activities into the model.


The new "Earth system model" will represent virtually all processes on the Earth's surface as realistically as possible and is intended to be an information system that develops and tests scenarios that show more sustainable development and thus better inform policies. "If you are planning a two-metre high dike in The Netherlands, for example, I can run through the data in my digital twin and check whether the dike will in all likelihood still protect against expected extreme events in 2050. The digital twin will also be used for strategic planning of fresh water and food supplies or wind farms and solar plants... READ MORE



1. Good News or Bad, We Like to Experience It With a Friend


When it comes to life events — good and bad — people choose to experience them at the same time as a friend as a means of deepening social connection, according to a paper forthcoming in Social Psychological and Personality Science.


But, apparently, misery doesn’t always like company. In five lab experiments that involved more than 2,500 participants, UCLA Anderson’s Franklin Shaddy, University of Florida’s Yanping Tu and University of Chicago’s Ayelet Fishbach found that people preferred to integrate experiences with others in all but extreme negative situations.


A basic scene-setting experiment offered 100 UCLA students the prospect of getting a fun video message from the head coach of the university’s men’s basketball team. The participants could also sign up a friend to receive the same, and the participant could choose if the friend got the message on the same day or on a different day. Nearly 90% of participants opted for the friend to get the message simultaneously... READ MORE


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