Top stories: Diamond-studded meteorites, ‘crazy bad’ air pollution, and a ‘gateway’ virus
Diamond-studded meteorites came from the collision of a lost planet
When our solar system was in its infancy 4.5 billion years ago, a swarm of protoplanets swirled around the sun—some of which coalesced into larger and larger masses, while others were blasted to smithereens in a demolition derby of planetary proportions. Those collisions would have produced innumerable fragments of cosmic shrapnel, some of which orbited the sun as carbon-rich asteroids. Now, a new analysis of the remains of one such asteroid bolsters the idea that they are, in fact, the remnants of one of our solar system’s lost planets.
Rooftop sensors on U.S. embassies are warning the world about ‘crazy bad’ air pollution
In October 2010, as heavy smog hung over Beijing, the U.S. embassy’s Twitter feed said its rooftop pollution sensor had detected “crazy bad” levels of hazardous microparticles. Rooftop sensors like the one in Beijing sprout from 26 diplomatic posts in 16 countries, and are meant to provide warnings of bad-air days to U.S. citizens. But they’re also supplying data to research efforts. The “little-air-monitor-that-could,” as physicist and former U.S. diplomat David Roberts calls it, has become a worldwide watchdog.
How the virus behind ‘kissing disease’ may increase your risk for autoimmune diseases like lupus
When John Harley lost a friend to lupus while in medical school, he vowed to get to the bottom of the disease, a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, and sometimes death. Now, some 40 years later, Harley says he’s found a “smoking gun.” The Epstein-Barr virus, which infects some 90% of Americans, may cause changes in gene expression that dramatically increase a person’s chance of getting lupus and six other autoimmune disorders, a new study by Harley, now a rheumatologist at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, and colleagues shows.
In dramatic vote, with baby, Senate confirms Bridenstine to lead NASA
President Donald Trump’s administration is pointing NASA back toward the moon, and now it has a leader to guide it there. This week, the U.S. Senate narrowly voted 50–49 on partisan lines to confirm Representative Jim Bridenstine (R–OK) to serve as NASA’s 13th administrator. The drama-filled vote prompted Vice President Mike Pence to attend as a potential tiebreaker and featured the first vote of Tammy Duckworth (D–IL) with her baby at her side.
Watch artificial intelligence create a 3D model of a person—from just a few seconds of video
Transporting yourself into a video game, body and all, just got easier. Artificial intelligence has been used to create 3D models of people’s bodies for virtual reality avatars, surveillance, visualizing fashion, or movies. But it typically requires special camera equipment to detect depth or to view someone from multiple angles. Now, a new algorithm creates 3D models using standard video footage from one angle.