Operating in Guangdong, China, the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment consists of large, cylindrical particle detectors immersed in pools of water in three underground caverns. The eight detectors pick up light signals generated by antineutrinos streaming from nearby nuclear power plants. Antineutrinos are the antiparticles of neutrinos, and produced in abundance by nuclear reactors.
Neutrinos are subatomic particles that are both famously elusive and omnipresent. They endlessly bombard every inch of Earth's surface at nearly the speed of light, but rarely interact with matter.
One of their defining characteristics is their ability to oscillate between three distinct "flavours": muon neutrino, tau neutrino, and electron neutrino. The experiment was designed to investigate the properties that dictate the probability of those oscillations, or what are known as mixing angles and 'mass splittings.'
Only one of the three mixing angles remained unknown at the time Daya Bay was designed in 2007 called theta13. So, Daya Bay was built to measure theta13* with higher sensitivity than any other experiment.
Daya Bay physicists made the world's first conclusive measurement of theta13 in 2012 and subsequently improved upon the measurement's precision as the experiment continued taking data. Now, after nine years of operation and the end of data collection in December 2020, scientists say Daya Bay has far exceeded expectations. Working with the complete dataset, physicists have now measured the value of theta13 with a precision two and a half times greater than the experiment's design goal. No other existing or planned experiment is expected to reach such an "exquisite" level of precision, they note.
The precision measurement of theta13 will enable physicists to more easily measure other parameters in neutrino physics, as well as develop more accurate models of subatomic particles and how they interact.
We all have different preferences for when it’s the right time to bring out the winter blankets. And the thermostat’s setting often forms the basis of office arguments between women and men regarding the “correct” temperature for it to be set.
Between the sexes, there are always more similarities than differences. But research does consistently show women prefer a higher indoor temperature to men.
But is there any science backing up the widespread belief women “feel the cold” more than men? At around the same body weight, women tend to have less muscle to generate heat. Women also have more fat between the skin and the muscles, so the skin feels colder, as it’s slightly further away from blood vessels.
Women also tend to have a lower metabolic rate than men, which reduces heat production capacity during cold exposure, making women more prone to feeling cold as the temperature drops.
The hormones oestrogen and progesterone, found in large quantities in women, contribute to the core body and skin temperatures.
Oestrogen dilates blood vessels at the extremities. This means more heat can be lost to the surrounding air. And progesterone can cause the vessels in the skin to constrict, meaning less blood will flow to some areas to keep the internal organs warmer, leaving women feeling cooler. This hormone balance changes throughout the month alongside the menstrual cycle.
The hormones also make women’s hands, feet and ears stay around three degrees Celsius cooler than men’s.
The core body temperature is highest in the week after ovulation, as progesterone levels increase. This means that around this time, women may be particularly sensitive to cooler outside temperatures.
Although the hands and feet are cooler, women do have warmer average core temperatures than men. This is likely the source of the saying “cold hands, warm heart”.
The phenomenon that some of us prefer warmer temperatures to others isn’t unique to humans. Studies on many species of birds and mammals report that males commonly congregate in cooler areas where there is shade, while females and offspring stay in warmer environments where there is sunlight.
Male bats prefer to rest at the cool, high peaks of mountains, whereas females remain in the warmer valleys.
Female mammals may have developed a preference for warmer climates to encourage them to rest with offspring during stages when the young are unable to regulate their own body temperature.
So the difference between heat-sensing mechanisms may provide an evolutionary advantage.
The “Scandinavian sleep method”, where couples sleep with separate blankets, is one way to overcome the differences in temperature preferences.
In the workplace, personal comfort systems are thermal systems that heat or cool and can be locally positioned in individual work stations such as desktops, chairs, or near the feet and legs. Examples include small desk fans, heated chairs and blankets, or footwarmers.
These systems provide individualised thermal comfort to meet personal needs without affecting others in the same space, and have been found to produce higher comfort satisfaction in the workplace.
They may also be an energy-efficient method to balance thermal comfort and health in office environments.
The article first appeared in The Conversation.
When a team of scientists listened to an audio clip recorded underwater off islands in central Indonesia, they heard what sounded like a campfire.
Instead, it was a coral reef, teeming with life, according to study scientists from British and Indonesian universities published last month, in which they used hundreds of such audio clips to train a computer programme to monitor the health of a coral reef by listening to it.
A healthy reef has a complex "crackling, campfire-like" sound because of all the creatures living on and in it, while a degraded reef sounds more desolate, life sciences specialist and the team's lead researcher Ben Williams said.
The artificial intelligence (AI) system parses data points such as the frequency and loudness of the sound from the audio clips and can determine with at least 92% accuracy whether the reef is healthy or degraded, according to the team's study published in Ecological Indicators journal.
The scientists hope this new AI system will help conservation groups around the world to track reef health more efficiently.
Coral reefs are under stress from human-driven carbon emissions that have warmed ocean surfaces by 0.13 degrees every decade and increased their acidity by 30% since the industrial era.
About 14% of the world's coral on reefs was lost between 2009 and 2018, an area 2.5 times the Grand Canyon National Park in the United States, according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
While they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs support more than 25% of marine biodiversity, including turtles, fish and lobsters - making them fertile ground for global fishing industries.
Indonesian conservationist and lecturer at the marine sciences faculty of Hasanuddin University Syafyudin Yusuf said the research would help in monitoring reef health in Indonesia.
The researchers also hope to collect underwater recordings from reefs in Australia, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands to help assess the progress of coral restoration projects.
In a surprising result for an ongoing medical trial, 12 rectal cancer patients were completely healed of the disease after taking a drug for six months. The patients underwent a series of medical exams — physical exam, endoscopy, bioscopy, PET scans, and MRI scans — and none of the reports showed any signs of the tumour.
The findings were published in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. The paper lists the names of 32 authors.
The initial purpose of this study was listed to find out whether the study drug, TSR-042 (commonly called dostarlimab), followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and standard surgery is an effective treatment for advanced deficient MisMatch Repair (dMMR) solid tumours.
The medical trial was supported by the Simon and Eve Colin Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Stand Up to Cancer, Swim Across America, and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
Participants of the trial with mismatch repair-deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma were given the drug every three weeks, for six months. According to the initial plan, the treatment was to be followed by standard chemotherapy and surgery, and patients who had a clinical complete response would proceed without both. After at least six months of follow-up, all 12 patients showed a clinical complete response with no signs of the tumour.
At the time of publication of the paper (June 5, 2022), no patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up that ranged from six to 25 months.
“It’s what cancer doctors’ dreams are made of,” Dr. Andrea Cercek, a co-author of the paper and an oncologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, said while speaking to CNN. Explaining how the drug used in the trial works, she said, “Dostarlimab works by unlocking the body’s natural immune system to fight cancer. When we give immunotherapy like [with] dostarlimab, it ramps up the immune system so that it sees cancer and gets rid of it,” she added. “What’s remarkable here is that it completely eliminated cancer. The tumours just vanished.”
Another notable highlight of the trial is that none of the participants reported significant severe side effects. According to The New York Times, around 3-5% of patients who take checkpoint inhibitors (like dostarlimab) show severe complications. The absence of significant side