Thursday, 1 December, 2022
HomeScientiFixScientists say it's theoretically possible to communicate with extraterrestrial beings

Scientists say it’s theoretically possible to communicate with extraterrestrial beings

ScientiFix, our weekly feature, offers you a summary of the top global science stories of the week, with links to their sources.

Text Size:

New Delhi: Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have used mathematical calculations to show that it’s theoretically possible to send signals across interstellar space using quantum communications.

In the research, the team also describes the possibility of extraterrestrial beings attempting to communicate with us using such signaling.

Quantum communication takes advantage of the laws of quantum physics to protect data. Quantum laws allow particles of light to exist in multiple states at once. However, if anyone tries to observe them in transit, this quantum state “collapses” — which means the data cannot be tampered with.

The team wanted to find out if similar types of communications might be possible across interstellar space. They used math to study the movement of X-rays across the interstellar medium.

The researchers show that since the space is empty, X-ray photons could travel hundreds of thousands of light years without interference.

Also Read: ‘Mount Everest of bacteria’ — scientists find pathogen so large you can see it with naked eye

Three new subatomic particles discovered by CERN scientists 

Physicists at the CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have discovered three new sub atomic particles — a strange pentaquark, a doubly charged tetraquark,, and its neutral partner.

Quarks are elementary particles and come in six ‘flavors’: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. They usually combine together in groups of twos and threes to form particles known as hadrons such as the protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei.

More rarely, however, they can also combine into four-quark and five-quark particles, or tetraquarks and pentaquarks.

These exotic hadrons were predicted by theorists at the same time as conventional hadrons, about six decades ago, but only relatively recently — in the last 20 years — have they been observed by LHCb and other experiments.

Most of the exotic hadrons discovered in the past two decades are tetraquarks or pentaquarks containing a charm quark and a charm antiquark, with the remaining two or three quarks being an up, down or strange quark or their antiquarks.

The discoveries include new exotic hadrons: the strange pentaquark PΛψs(4338)0, the doubly charged tetraquark Tacs0(2900)++ and its neutral partner Tacs0(2900)0.

Therapies with gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 may increase cancer risk

Gene therapy using the well-known gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, which is under clinical trials for various diseases, may have come with a rare risk of causing cancer, a new study from Boston Children’s hospital shows.

Studying classical CRISPR/Cas9 in multiple human cell lines, researchers for the first time found that the technique can cause large rearrangements of DNA through a process called retrotransposition.

Rearrangements occur when breaks in DNA aren’t repaired, allowing mismatched ends to join. While retrotransposition events caused by CRISPR were uncommon — occurring up to 5 to 6 percent of the time in the study’s experimental model — they can theoretically trigger cancer.

The researchers suggest that tests for retrotransposition be added to safety testing for CRISPR/Cas9 editing systems. Current test technologies either sequence small stretches of DNA to ensure that the desired gene has been added or deleted in the right place, or are designed to detect small gene rearrangements.

They don’t look for large rearrangements caused by retrotransposition.

In retrotransposition, DNA sequences known as “mobile elements” move from one location in the genome to another. Using enzymes, they replicate themselves and create a break in both strands of the DNA double helix, where they insert themselves.

This happens naturally and is often harmless — in fact, over the course of evolution, mobile elements (also called “jumping genes”) have come to make up approximately a third of our genome. But they have also been linked to disease, including cancer.

New dinosaur species with short arms discovered

Scientists from Argentina have discovered a new species of dinosaur with disproportionately short arms just like T. rex, called the Meraxes gigas.

So far, the Tyrannosaurs were the only known group of giant carnivorous dinosaurs with tiny arms. According to the researchers, T. rex and M. gigas evolved to have tiny arms independently, possibly because short arms have a specific function like mating or movement support.

M. gigas became extinct almost 20 million years before T. rex became a species, The species are also very far apart on the evolutionary tree.

Living in the present-day northern Patagonia region of Argentina, the dinosaur was 45 years old, about 11 meters long, and weighed more than four tons.

The fossil of M. gigas shows never-seen-before complete regions of the skeleton like the arms and legs that helped the team from Ernesto Bachmann Paleontological Museum in Neuquén, Argentina understand some evolutionary trends and the anatomy of Carcharodontosaurids  — the group that M. gigas belongs to.

The researchers hypothesise that the arms were used for reproductive behavior such as holding the female during mating or to support themselves to stand back up after a break or a fall.

The team also found that the skull of M. gigas was decorated with crests, furrows, bumps and small hornlets (horns). Those ornamentations appear late in their development when the individuals become adults.

Samples from Bennu show asteroid’s subsurface is loosely packed

Samples collected from Bennu’s surface show that the asteroid has a surface composed of weakly bound rock fragments containing twice the void space as the overall asteroid, scientists have found.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected samples from asteroid Bennu’s surface in 2020. During the sample pick up, forces measured provided scientists with a direct test of the poorly understood near-subsurface physical properties of rubble-pile asteroids.

A team led by researchers from the Southwest Research Institute has now characterised the layer just below the asteroid’s surface.

They found that the low gravity of rubble-pile asteroids such as Bennu weakens its near-subsurface by not compressing the upper layers.

The authors conclude that a low density, weakly bound subsurface layer should be a global property of Bennu, and not just of the contact point.

Bennu is a spheroidal collection of rock fragments and debris 1,700 feet in diameter and held together by gravity. It is thought to have been formed after a collision involving a larger main-asteroid-belt object. Rocks are scattered across its heavily cratered surface, indicating that it has had a rough-and-tumble existence since being liberated from its much larger parent asteroid some millions or billions of years ago.

Also Read: ‘Fluffy’ crab from Australia that wears sea sponge like a hat named after Darwin’s ship

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular