MI weekly selection #155

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Stability improved by allowing plasma closer to fusion reactor walls

Researchers studying magnetic confinement fusion have found that allowing plasma to get closer to reactor walls may make the system more stable. It was a scary proposition because if their experiment didn’t work, it would have melted the reactor. Teams from China and the US are working together on the project.

Extreme Tech

Far-away dwarf planet discovered in the Solar System

A newly discovered dwarf planet may be the most distant ever found in our solar system, researchers say. V774104 is two or three times farther from the sun than Pluto and nearly half its size. Its orbit may take it closer to the sun sometimes, but that’s yet to be determined.


Burned bones scanned with neutron beam to gauge changes

Scientists in Portugal are using neutron beams to look at molecular changes that take place in burned bones. The changes in the crystal structure of burned bones can make it difficult for researchers to get accurate size, sex and age information from them, so the team is trying to gauge those changes by looking at the bones before and after burning.


Tooth study suggests Eurasian mammoth arrived in North America 1.5M years ago

A new analysis of mammoth teeth suggests it was the more evolved Eurasian steppe mammoth that got to North America about 1.5 million years ago and not its warm-climate ancestor Mammuthus meridionalis. Researchers say the Eurasian steppe mammoth may even be the same species as North America’s Columbian mammoth, which walked the area during the last ice age.

Live Science

Lineage of mummified South American child traced through DNA

DNA found in the lung of the 500-year-old mummified remains of a 7-year-old boy sacrificed in an Incan ritual is giving scientists a wealth of information about the child’s lineage. The so-called Aconcagua boy was discovered by hikers in 1985, but only recently did researchers find DNA and put together his entire mitochondrial genome. The analysis shows that the boy belonged to a never-before-identified population of South Americans that dates back about 14,000 years in the Andes.


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