Studying the sun as a star to understand stellar flares and exoplanets — ScienceDaily


New research shows that sunspots and other active regions can change the overall solar emissions. The sunspots cause some emissions to dim and others to brighten; the timing of the changes also varies between different types of emissions. This knowledge will help astronomers characterize the conditions of stars, which has important implications for finding exoplanets around those stars.

An international research team led by Shin Toriumi at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency added up the different types of emissions observed by a fleet of satellites including “Hinode” and the “Solar Dynamics Observatory” to see what the Sun would look like if observed from far away as a single dot of light like other stars.

The team investigated how features like sunspots change the overall picture. They found that when a sunspot is near the middle of the side of the Sun facing us, it causes the total amount of visible light to dim. In contrast, when the sunspots are near the edge of the Sun the total visible light brightens because at that viewing angle bright structures known as faculae surrounding the sunspots are more visible than the dark centers.

In addition, X-rays which are produced in the corona above the solar surface grow brighter when a sunspot is visible. The coronal loops extending above the sunspots are magnetically heated, so this brightening appears before the sunspot itself rotates into view and persists even after the sunspot has rotated out of view.

Because the changes in the overall solar emissions and their timings carry information about the location and structure of features on the surface of the Sun, astronomers hope to be able to deduce the surface features of other stars such as starspots and magnetic fields. This will help astronomers to better recognize dimming caused by the shadow of

Wild Chickens Rule the Streets in Some Beach Towns. Here’s Why One Scientist Is Studying Them


This article appeared in the November 2020 issue of Discover magazine as “Where the Wild Things Crow.” Subscribe for more stories like these.

If you’ve ever hit the beaches of Key West, Bermuda or Hawaii looking for a tranquil vacation, you may have experienced a rude awakening. By a rooster, that is.

These tourist-laden seaside towns are full of feral chickens. They roam the graveyards. They strut the beaches. They peck at leftovers beneath busy tables on restaurant patios. Legends about the birds abound, including that one flock arrived on the wings of a Pan Am jet and that some were bred to have extra toes. But are they good for anything besides waking us up?

Eben Gering thinks so. He’s been chasing free-roaming fowl around beaches across the globe for almost a decade. An assistant professor of biology at Nova Southeastern University in south Florida, Gering is convinced that these birds hold answers to core questions about gene evolution and disease resistance. Though he tracks many wild animals that hold scientific secrets, feral chickens are his favorite.

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(Credit: Yakonstant/Shutterstock)

Q: There are so many animals in the world; how did you end up focusing on chickens?

A: From a practical perspective, they’re easy to watch. They don’t fly great distances, and they’ll perform all kinds of interesting behaviors right in front of you. So, we’re able to get data on chickens that would be much harder to get if we were studying other kinds of organisms. We’re even able to use geo-referenced photographs of chickens that people post on their social media while on vacation to track things like when the hens have chicks and the prevalence of genetic traits like yellow legs.

Q: And why feral chickens?

A: In biology right now, we have some really interesting research

LTA studying use of smartphone screens to display information from new ERP unit: Amy Khor


SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is studying whether data from the new on-board unit (OBU) in vehicles can be pushed to smartphones, allowing them to be used as an alternative display screen for electronic road pricing (ERP) information.

This is a “possible future upgrade” for the OBU, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor in Parliament on Monday (Oct 5). 

It was announced last month that installation of the OBU – replacing the current in-vehicle units (IU) – will start in the second half of 2021. These will be used when Singapore switches to the satellite-based next-generation ERP system in mid-2023.

Dr Khor said authorities are consulting workshops and authorised motor vehicle agents on how best to install the OBUs. 

“For example, the OBU display unit can be installed in cars such that the blockage of the windscreen is very minimal, and can be folded away,” she said. 

“As for what to show on the display unit, indeed it should not be distracting and affect safety. LTA intends to present a few options to gather public feedback. For example, the display can be kept black most of the time, and only display ERP charges paid when a transaction is effected.”

READ: New ERP units to be installed from second half of 2021; no change yet to congestion pricing framework

Dr Khor was responding to questions from several Members of Parliament who asked whether the design of the OBU can be improved, whether the screen will be distracting for motorists and whether the majority of its functions can be replaced by a smartphone in future.


Explaining the design of the unit, Dr Khor said the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore had advised that the core charging transactions and ERP data

New study opens avenues for studying or targeting the main barrier to a cure — ScienceDaily


The latent reservoir is the last bastion of HIV’s resistance to a cure. But it is difficult to destroy because it is invisible: the cells in the reservoir harbor virus that is dormant, so they don’t have any viral proteins on their surface that would give them away.

As a result, scientists have struggled to learn what the reservoir looks like in individuals with HIV. And without this knowledge, they harbor little hope of being able to target the reservoir with therapies that could eliminate or reduce it, thus ridding people of HIV infection for good.

To fish out reservoir cells, scientists have to reawaken the virus by activating cells they collect from infected individuals. Once awake, the virus produces proteins that mark the surface of its host cells, which gives researchers a handle to find and study these cells. However, the very process of reactivating the virus leads to changes to the cells’ biology that obscure their original identity. And so, the true identity of the cells making up the latent reservoir — also called latent cells — has remained elusive.

To overcome this problem, Gladstone Scientist Nadia Roan, PhD, has taken advantage of an approach she developed previously to backtrack reactivated reservoir cells to their original latent state. With this approach, Roan and her team have mapped out an atlas of the reservoir cells of eight individuals living with HIV, which they recently reported in the journal eLIFE.

“Our findings challenge some previously held assumptions about the makeup of the reservoir,” says Roan, who is also an associate professor of urology at UC San Francisco. “In addition, our detailed map of reservoir cells will make it easier to find these cells in infected individuals, which will fundamentally change how the latent reservoir can be studied.”

Method to the