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Ghez, the fourth woman to win Nobel Prize in Physics – Prensa Latina

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Stockholm, Oct 6 (Prensa Latina) American astrophysicist Andrea Ghez received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday, so she became the fourth woman to win this category in the whole history of those prizes, awarded for the first time in 1901.
Ghez, a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, United States, is the 53rd lady to win a Nobel and the 18th to be awarded in the science category.

The scientist graduated in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and did her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1992.

Before Andrea Ghez, Donna Strickland in 2018, Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963 and Marie Curie in 1903 were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics; while over 200 men have received that recognition.

The work for which Andrea Ghez was awarded focuses mainly on the use of high spatial resolution imaging techniques to study the regions of star formation and a supermassive black hole.

The American astrophysicist shares the Nobel Prize with her colleague Reinhard Genzel, from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching (Germany) who led two groups of astronomers who in the early 90s studied the Sagittarius A * region in the center of our galaxy.

Both teams accurately mapped the orbits of the brightest stars that are closest to the center of the Milky Way.

rly/omr/agp/cdg

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Spacecraft in risky descent to asteroid 200 million miles from Earth – Euronews

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Late on Tuesday, 200 million miles away from planet Earth, a NASA spacecraft began a precarious descent to an asteroid.

The Osiris-Rex craft is attempting to collect a handful of rubble, which scientists say contains the building blocks of our solar system.

It dropped out of orbit around the asteroid, named Bennu, beginning a four and half hour descent to the boulder-covered surface of the space rock.

This is the USA’s first attempt to gather samples from an asteroid, something Japan has accomplished twice.

Osiris-Rex won’t be landing on the asteroid – as long as everything goes to plan – as Bennu’s gravity is too low, being just 510 metres across.

Instead, the spacecraft will reach out with a robotic arm, to try to collect between 60 grams and 2 kilograms of material.

“We’ll only be kissing the surface with a short touch-and-go measured in just seconds,” said the University of Arizona’s Heather Enos, the deputy scientist for the mission.

After nearly two years orbiting Bennu, the spacecraft found this location to have the biggest patch of particles small enough to be swallowed up.

By the time flight controllers near Denver hear back from Osiris-Rex, the action already will have happened 18 and a half minutes earlier – the time it takes radio signals to travel each way between Bennu and Earth.

NASA won’t know until later this week how much was actually collected — or whether the spacecraft got anything at all.

The $800-plus million mission started with a launch back in 2016, and the spacecraft isn’t expected back on Earth until 2023.

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This red light means 'go' for medical discoveries – Phys.org

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This red light means 'go' for medical discoveries
UVA’s Hui-wang Ai, PhD, and Shen Zhang, PhD, have developed a simple and effective improvement to fluorescent “biosensors” widely used in scientific and medical research. Credit: University of Virginia

With a little tweak of the color palette, University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have made it easier for scientists to understand biological processes, track happenings inside individual cells, unravel the mysteries of disease and develop new treatments.

UVA’s Hui-wang Ai, Ph.D., and Shen Zhang, Ph.D., have developed a simple and effective improvement to fluorescent ‘biosensors’ widely used in scientific and medical research. The biosensors detect specific targets inside and sets them aglow, so that scientists can monitor and quantify biological events they otherwise could not.

Most fluorescent protein biosensors give a green or yellow glow, but Ai and Zhang have discovered a way to shift the green to red. This comes with big benefits, including making it easier for scientists to monitor multiple targets at a time and to peer more deeply into tissues.

“This innovative method can convert not only existing biosensors, but also any green biosensors developed in the future,” Ai said. “Multicolor and/or multiplexed imaging with cells will thus become widely accessible.”

Lighting the Way

While there are existing red biosensors, they are typically outperformed by their green counterparts. So scientists have been eager to find ways to shift the green color into red, retaining the benefits of the green sensors while adding new ones, such as reducing the visual confusion that can be caused by the natural fluorescence of tissues and cells.

Ai and Zhang found a solution partly by a stroke of luck—or “serendipity,” as they describe it in a new scientific paper. In the course of their regular lab work, they found that adding a particular amino acid, 3-aminotyrosine, to the green biosensor made it turn red. This is simple to do and quite effective, they report. The red version preserved the brightness, and responsiveness of the green sensor, while offering the additional benefits of a red one.

“We modified a panel of green biosensors for metal ions, neurotransmitters and cell metabolites,” Zhang said. “Spontaneous and efficient green-to-red conversion was observed for all tested biosensors, and little optimization on individual sensors was needed.”

The researchers tested their improved on cells that make insulin in the pancreas. They were able to monitor the effect of high levels of glucose on the cells, gaining new insights and giving the researchers new directions to explore.

They hope their quick-and-easy sensor upgrade will offer similar benefits to many other scientists and lines of scientific research.

“It will have lots of applications,” Ai said, “such as acceleration of our understanding of how pancreas controls insulin secretion or how neuronal activity patterns in the brain correlate with complex behavior.”


Explore further

Cell imaging gets colorful


More information:
Shen Zhang et al, A general strategy to red-shift green fluorescent protein-based biosensors, Nature Chemical Biology (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-0641-7

Citation:
This red light means ‘go’ for medical discoveries (2020, October 20)
retrieved 20 October 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-red-medical-discoveries.html

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Asteroid On Track To Buzz Earth The Day Before The Presidential Election – HuffPost

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An asteroid hurtling close to Earth is on course to buzz the globe the day before the U.S. presidential election.

According to calculations by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the refrigerator-sized space boulder has only a minuscule chance (.41%) of entering Earth’s atmosphere and is likely to be a relatively comfortable — but very close in space terms — 4,776 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the center of the Earth when it makes its flyby.

“So if the world ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the universe,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said on Instagram Monday:

Asteroid 2018VP1 is hurtling through space at some 25,000 miles per hour. It was discovered two years ago when it was some 280,000 miles away.

If the asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere, it would quickly disintegrate because of its small size, per NASA Asteroid Watch. And if that happens, its fiery fall would provide a great light show potentially visible from Earth.

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