MI weekly selection #45


How science goes wrong

Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself

The Economist

Astronomers find a “tilted” solar system

Scientists have discovered a “tilted” solar system, according to a report in Science. While looking at Kepler-56, a star about 2,800 light-years away, they were surprised to find that the plane of its equator tilts 45 degrees to its planets’ orbits. Further study revealed that the tilting was caused by a distant body that tugs at the star and its planets’ orbits with its gravitational pull, yet they stay aligned because they are in resonance.


Scientists get close-up look at ancient spider-like fossil’s brain

One of the most well-preserved nervous systems in an ancient fossil has been found in a spider-like creature that dates back 520 million years, according to a study in Nature. Using a CT scanner and 3D software, scientists were able to see structures they could not see on the fossil’s surface.


Light pulses gain speed by tricking Newton’s 3rd law of motion

A diametric drive, which uses negative and positive mass to accelerate forever, has been created by researchers using effective mass, essentially tricking light pulses into behaving as if they had mass. By firing laser pulses with positive and negative effective mass through two loops of fiber-optic cable, one a bit longer than the other, scientists at Germany’s University of Erlangen-Nuremberg found that the pulses accelerated in the same direction, gaining speed with each revolution, essentially cheating Newton’s third law of motion.

New Scientist

Scientists say glycolysis method boosts biofuel yields by 50%

A team of scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles reports in Nature they have developed an approach to processing glucose in biomass that they say could boost biofuel yields by 50%. The novel approach, dubbed non-oxidative glycolysis, converts all six glucose carbon atoms into usable molecules, unlike conventional glycolysis, which loses two of the glucose carbon atoms into carbon dioxide.


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