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Why newfound ancient marine invertebrate has been named after Zelenskyy

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

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New Delhi: Scientists have named an ancient marine invertebrate after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ausichicrinites zelenskyyi is the first Jurassic comatulid or feather star unearthed in the African continent.

Feather stars are members of the order Comatulida, the most diversified lineage of crinoids (ancient marine animals). Comatulids are the only living crinoid group that is globally distributed in both shallow- and deep-water settings, the scientists, from Poland and Ethiopia, explain in a study published in the peer-reviewed UK journal Royal Society Open Science 20 July.

The Ausichicrinites zelenskyyi has been named “in honour” of Zelenskyy “for his courage and bravery in defending free Ukraine”, the paper states.

Comatulids, according to the authors, shed their stalks during development and move by crawling and swimming. While there have been previous fossil records of feather stars dating back to the Late Triassic epoch a time period between 237 and 201 million years ago most of the fossils found were incomplete.

Ausichicrinites zelenskyyi is one of the most complete fossil feather stars known to date, and the oldest one from the African continent. It lived approximately 145 million years ago, and had 10 massive arms.

The fossil, discovered by Polish paleontologists, provides a unique insight into the physical features of feather star limps.


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


James Webb telescope spots oldest galaxy ever seen in universe

The James Webb Space Telescope has captured an image of the oldest galaxy ever seen. Named GLASS-z13, the galaxy is estimated to have existed when the universe was just 300 million years old. The image has been widely shared on Twitter.

The research, conducted by a team of scientists from various countries including the US, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and Spain, is being peer-reviewed and was submitted to The Astrophysical Journal, an American scientific journal of astrophysics and astronomy, on 19 July.

According to one researcher, the image captured by the telescope is a snapshot of what the galaxy looked like when the universe was young. Since the light of distant galaxies travels across billions of years of space and time, the light signals show what the galaxy looked like in the past.

Before the launch of the Webb telescope, NASA’s first ever telescope, the farthest galaxies previously known in our universe were GN-z11 and HD1.

Along with GLASSz-13, the researchers looked at GLASSz-11 which is also a candidate for one of the earliest galaxies ever seen. GLASSz-13 and GLASSz-11 are 1,600 and 2,300 light-years across. In comparison, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years in diameter.

Both galaxies have a mass of about a billion suns, compared to 100 to 400 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy.

Mammal ancestors’ ear canals reveal when warm-bloodedness evolved

Mammal ancestors became warm-blooded nearly 20 million years later than previously thought, with tiny structures in their inner ears playing a key role in maintaining body temperature, a new study has found.

Warm-bloodedness is a key mammal trait, but when our ancestors evolved it has remained a mystery.

In a study published this week in the British scientific journal Nature, researchers found that a fossil animal’s body temperature can be revealed by looking at the size of tiny structures in their inner ears.

The fluid in our ears becomes runnier at higher temperatures, so animals with warm bodies don’t need canals as big for it to flow through.

It’s hard to tell whether a fossil animal was warm-blooded since one cannot ascertain the temperature of a creature that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. The research team from London’s Natural History Museum, the University of Lisbon’s Instituto Superior Técnico, and the Field Museum in Chicago realised that animals’ ears provide an indirect clue about their body temperatures.

All vertebrate animals’ ears contain tiny canals filled with fluid that helps them balance. The viscosity, or runniness, of that fluid changes based on temperature, and our inner ears have evolved to different sizes so that it can flow correctly. Cold-blooded animals’ ear fluid is cooler and thicker, so it needs wider spaces to travel through, while warm-blooded animals have runnier ear fluid, so our semicircular canals don’t need to be as big.

Cleaner air is now adding to global warming

Researchers, using satellite observation, have found that a drop in pollution levels has temporarily boosted the warming of the planet from 15 to 50 per cent.

While burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases that drive climate change, polluting particles released from the combustion of fossil fuels reflect sunlight and cool the planet, thereby offsetting a fraction of the warming.

Researchers from Germany’s Leipzig University have found that the climatic influence of global air pollution has dropped by up to 30 per cent since the year 2000. The cleaner air has boosted the total warming from carbon dioxide by 15 to 50 per cent.

Their study was submitted as a preprint to the international, peer-reviewed scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in April.

Independent experts suggest that the conclusions of the study are correct. Data from two NASA satellites, Terra and Aqua, operating since 1999 and 2002, helped researchers track the increase in infrared heat trapped by greenhouse gases.

The data showed a decline in reflected light from earth. The scientists concluded that the most logical explanation for this was the drop in aerosols.

Quantum computer works with more than 0 & 1

Scientists have designed a quantum computer that can perform arbitrary calculations without being restricted to the binary of zeroes and ones.

The advancement may help unlock more computational power with fewer quantum particles. Current computers are all designed to work with binary information that is information encoded with just two numbers, zeroes and ones.

The approach has been successful so far, which is why quantum computers are also designed with binary information processing in mind.

The team from the University of Innsbruck in Austria has now succeeded in developing a quantum computer that can perform arbitrary calculations with so-called quantum digits. Their study was published on 21 July in the peer-reviewed, UK-based scientific journal Nature Physics.

Although storing information in zeroes and ones is not the most efficient way of doing calculations, it is the simplest way.

In the quantum world, atoms can naturally assume eight different states each of which can be used to store information for computation.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)


Also read: NASA decodes why some planets have clouds of sand


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