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This Week In Science!

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Philip Brayne

Creative Services Assistant

clockJul 30 2021, 11:42 UTC
This week in science IFLScience

For The First Time, Light Has Been Directly Observed From Behind A Supermassive Black Hole 

X-rays have been seen coming from directly behind the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy I Zwicky 1, an active cosmic object about 800 million light-years away. This phenomenon has been predicted for decades thanks to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but this is the first time it has been directly seen. We can see this due to the black hole warping space, light, and magnetic fields. 

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890-Million-Year-Old Sponge Fossils Might Be Evidence Of Earliest Animal Life Yet 

Structures dating back 890 million years found in rocks in Canada resemble the internal scaffolding of sea sponges, one of the simplest forms of animal life. These structures are 350 million years older than the Cambrian explosion, which is thought to be when Earth’s first animals appeared. This discovery has stirred up controversy, with some attributing the structures to microbes or crystals – but if they are indeed fossils, they may be the earliest ever evidence of animals. 

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World's First Flying Jet Motorcycle Just Completed Prototype Test Flight 

A jet turbine-powered motorcycle that looks like a flying jet ski has just completed its first test flight, enabling it to go on to the next stage of production. These tests showed that Jetpack Aviation’s "The Speeder" could hover, turn, move in various directions, and right itself after being knocked. The company says the vehicles will reach speeds of 150 mph and heights of 15,000 feet. 

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Recovered COVID Patients May Have Significantly Reduced Intelligence, Suggests Large Study 

People who have previously been infected with COVID-19 and recovered may have significantly reduced intelligence, suggests a clinically validated online cognitive test taken by over 80,000 people. After controlling for other factors, increased cognitive deficits were found in those that had previously contracted the virus, exacerbated in more severe cases. The deficits remained whether ongoing symptoms were there or not, and did not depend on time since infection. 

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Never-Before-Seen Liquid Phase Of Glass Heralds A New Class Of Materials 

An extremely slim and stable phase of glass has been discovered by researchers that created an ultrathin layer of liquid. Glass looks like a liquid in the way molecules are arranged, but it behaves like a solid. Previous ultra-thin films, like those used in OLED screens and optical fibers, are prone to degradation and instability due to more dominant liquid properties. The researchers made the new films by turning a glass vapor into a solid. 

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Project December: The AI Chatbot People Are Using To "Talk To" The Dead 

In 2019, OpenAI created a piece of text-generating that they then deemed "too dangerous" to release. A programmer used it to create eerily convincing online chatbots after the AI was eventually made available. This year, after training the AI on real messages, one man used it to talk to a simulated version of his dead fiancée. 

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