Alex

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Peacocks, panther chameleons, scarlet macaws, clown fish, toucans, blue-ringed octopuses, and so many more: The animal kingdom has countless denizens with extraordinarily colorful beauty. But in many cases, scientists know much more about how the animals use their colors than about how they make them. New work continues to reveal those secrets, which often depend on the fantastically precise self-assembly of minuscule features in and on the feathers, scales, hair, and skin—a fact that makes the answers intensely interesting to soft-matter physicists and engineers in the photonics industry.

Many of the colors seen in nature, particularly in the plant kingdom, are produced by pigments, which reflect a portion of the light spectrum while absorbing the rest. Green pigments like chlorophyll reflect the green part of the spectrum but absorb the longer red and yellow wavelengths as well as the shorter blue ones. Which specific wavelengths get reflected or absorbed depends on the pigment’s molecular makeup and the exact distances between the atoms in its molecular structures.

Because plants are masters of biochemical synthesis, their cells can concoct many types of pigments, but animals by and large have lost the metabolic pathways to make most of them. Melanin, the predominant pigment in animals, is either brown (eumelanin) or reddish yellow (pheomelanin)—a rather limited palette. To make the richer rainbow of colors they need for decorating and disguising themselves, courting mates and warding off predators, many animals can obtain the needed pigments from their diet. Birds’ bright reds and yellows, for instance, mostly come from carotenoid pigments in their food.

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The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

COVID-19 survivors may have loss of brain tissue

Even mild cases of COVID-19 may lead to loss of brain tissue, according to findings from a long-term study involving 782 volunteers. As part of the ongoing UK Biobank study, participants underwent brain scans before the pandemic. For a before-and-after comparison, researchers invited 394 COVID-19 survivors to come back for follow-up scans as well as 388 healthy volunteers. Most of the COVID-19 survivors had had only mild-to-moderate symptoms, or no symptoms at all, while 15 had been hospitalized. Among the COVID-19 survivors, researchers saw "significant" loss of gray matter in regions of the brain related to smell and taste - the left parahippocampal gyrus, left orbitofrontal cortex and left insula. Some of the affected brain regions are also involved in the memory of experiences that evoke emotional reactions, the researchers noted in a report posted on medRxiv on Tuesday ahead of peer review. The changes were not seen in the group that had not been infected. The authors said more research is needed to determine whether COVID-19 survivors will have issues in the longer term with their ability to remember emotion-evoking events. They also do not yet know whether the loss of gray matter is a result of the virus spreading into the brain, or some other effect of the illness.

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Prehistoric rhino weighed 21 tonnes – the equivalent of four large African elephants – and could reach close to 7m to graze treetops.
In north-western China, scientists have discovered fossil evidence of a new species of giant rhinoceros, “taller than a giraffe” that lived 26.5 million years ago, making it one of the largest mammals to have ever roamed the planet.

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In the future, your vanilla ice cream may be made from plastic bottles. Scientists have figured out a way to convert plastic waste into vanilla flavoring with genetically engineered bacteria, according to a new study.

Vanillin, the compound that carries most of the smell and taste of vanilla, can be extracted naturally from vanilla beans or made synthetically. About 85% of vanillin is currently made from chemicals taken from fossil fuels, according to The Guardian.

Vanillin is found in a wide variety of food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, cleaning and herbicide products, and the demand is "growing rapidly," the authors wrote in the study. In 2018, the global demand for vanillin was about 40,800 tons (37,000 metric tons), and it's expected to grow to 65,000 tons (59,000 metric tons) by 2025, according to the study, published June 10 in the journal Green Chemistry.

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After a decade of work, a biologist has shown that a horizontal offshoot of the thale cress plant is a body part all its own: the cantil.

The machinery of life is dazzlingly complex. To try to make sense of it, researchers have spent decades focusing on so-called model organisms: creatures that are easy to study in the lab and share key features with many other forms of life. This model group includes the lab mouse, the fruit fly, and an unassuming weed called thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana.

Model organisms are among the best understood lifeforms in the world. So imagine scientists’ surprise when, after a decade of work, a dogged plant biologist found a brand-new organ on thale cress, hiding in plain sight.

The newfound organ, described today in the journal Development, is a horizontal arm that juts off the main stem of Arabidopsis and acts as a support for the pedicel, the small stalk that leads to the base of a flower. Extending from the main stem of the plant, the part is reminiscent of the structural support known as a cantilever, leading researchers to name the organs “cantils.”

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When Microsoft said that it was going to announce the next version of Windows on June 24, it was only a matter of time before the leaks started coming. The first Windows 11 build leaked today, first offering up some screenshots on Baidu. Now, the full build is here.

First of all, we should be clear that this is very much a new version of Windows 10. It has a big visual redesign, but under the hood, this is the same OS. Microsoft wanted to build excitement around it, so that’s why we’re getting the new branding. Because of this, the first thing you’ll see when booting up this leaked build is a very familiar out-of-box experience.

Indeed, all of the different Windows 11 versions are the same as they were for Windows 10, including Home, Pro, Enterprise, and more. Once you get past that part where you choose your edition, decide how to partition your drive, and it actually installs the bits, that’s where the OOBE takes a left turn from what’s familiar.

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MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist known for her unexpected multi-billion dollar donations to charities and racial equity causes, announced Tuesday that she has given $2.7 billion to 286 organizations. It is the third round of no-strings-attached, major philanthropic gifts Scott has made, which together rival the charitable contributions made by the largest foundations.

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wrote in a Medium post that she and her husband, Dan Jewett, made the donations to enable the recipients to continue their work and as a “signal of trust and encouragement” to them and others.

And she made clear in her announcement that she is troubled by the increasing concentration of vast wealth among a small proportion of individuals. She and Jewett worked with a team of researchers and philanthropy advisors “to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change.”

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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Friday that the agency has approved a new infrared space telescope in the effort to help advance planetary defense efforts.

The Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope (NEO Surveyor) will move to the next phase of mission development at JPL after a successful review that moved the mission forward into preliminary design.

The NEO Surveyor was proposed to aid NASA's ability to both discover and characterize near-earth objects, like the "potentially hazardous" asteroid 2021 KT1.

KT1, the size of Seattle's Space Needle, recently hurtled past Earth at a distance of approximately 4.5 million miles and a velocity of 40,000 mph.

According to NASA, a near-Earth object is an asteroid or comet that approaches within 1.3 astronomical units of the sun.

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Blue Origin auctions New Shepard ride with Jeff Bezos for $28 million

The bid price soared from $4.8 million to $28 million in under ten minutes

Blue Origin’s month-long auction for a trip to the edge of space with its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos ended on Saturday with a closing price of $28 million. The flight aboard New Shepard, slated for July 20th, will mark the company’s first mission flying humans, in which the winning bidder will bask in a few minutes of microgravity with Bezos, his brother Mark, and one other passenger before returning back to land.

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Danish international footballer Christian Eriksen was given chest compressions by medics during the Euro 2020 clash against Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday.

Eriksen, 29, collapsed face first into the pitch while running to collect a throw-in with no other player near him. His teammates and Finnish players nearby quickly signalled to English referee Anthony Taylor that Eriksen, a former Tottenham Hotspur favourite, needed urgent medical attention.

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All kick-off times are shown in CEST (Central European Summer Time).

GROUP STAGE

Friday 11 June

Group A: Turkey vs Italy (21:00, Rome)


Saturday 12 June

Group A: Wales vs Switzerland (15:00, Baku)
Group B: Denmark vs Finland (18:00, Copenhagen)
Group B: Belgium vs Russia (21:00, St Petersburg)


Sunday 13 June

Group D: England vs Croatia (15:00, London)
Group C: Austria vs North Macedonia (18:00, Bucharest)
Group C: Netherlands vs Ukraine (21:00, Amsterdam)


Monday 14 June

Group D: Scotland vs Czech Republic (15:00, Glasgow)
Group E: Poland vs Slovakia (18:00, St Petersburg)
Group E: Spain vs Sweden (21:00, Seville)


Tuesday 15 June

Group F: Hungary vs Portugal (18:00, Budapest)
Group F: France vs Germany (21:00, Munich)


Wednesday 16 June

Group B: Finland vs Russia (15:00, St Petersburg)
Group A: Turkey vs Wales (18:00, Baku)
Group A: Italy vs Switzerland (21:00, Rome)


Thursday 17 June

Group C: Ukraine vs North Macedonia (15:00, Bucharest)
Group B: Denmark vs Belgium (18:00, Copenhagen)
Group C: Netherlands vs Austria (21:00, Amsterdam)


Friday 18 June

Group E: Sweden vs Slovakia (15:00, St Petersburg)
Group D: Croatia vs Czech Republic (18:00, Glasgow)
Group D: England vs Scotland (21:00, London)


Saturday 19 June

Group F: Hungary vs France (15:00, Budapest)
Group F: Portugal vs Germany (18:00, Munich)
Group E: Spain vs Poland (21:00, Seville)


Sunday 20 June

Group A: Italy vs Wales (18:00, Rome)
Group A: Switzerland vs Turkey (18:00, Baku)


Monday 21 June

Group C: North Macedonia vs Netherlands (18:00, Amsterdam)
Group C: Ukraine vs Austria (18:00, Bucharest)
Group B: Russia vs Denmark (21:00, Copenhagen)
Group B: Finland vs Belgium (21:00, St Petersburg)


Tuesday 22 June

Group D: Czech Republic vs England (21:00, London)
Group D: Croatia vs Scotland (21:00, Glasgow)


Wednesday 23 June

Group E: Slovakia vs Spain (18:00, Seville)
Group E: Sweden vs Poland (18:00, St Petersburg)
Group F: Germany vs Hungary (21:00, Munich)
Group F: Portugal v France (21:00, Budapest)

The top two in each group plus four best third-placed teams go through.

Rest days on 24 and 25 June


KNOCKOUT PHASE


Round of 16


Saturday 26 June

1: 2A vs 2B (18:00, Amsterdam)
2: 1A vs 2C (21:00, London)


Sunday 27 June

3: 1C vs 3D/E/F (18:00, Budapest)
4: 1B vs 3A/D/E/F (21:00, Seville)
Monday 28 June

5: 2D vs 2E (18:00, Copenhagen)
6: 1F vs 3A/B/C (21:00, Bucharest)


Tuesday 29 June

7: 1D vs 2F (18:00, London)
8: 1E vs 3A/B/C/D (21:00, Glasgow)

Rest days on 30 June and 1 July


Quarter-finals


Friday 2 July

QF1: Winner 6 vs Winner 5 (18:00, St Petersburg)
QF2: Winner 4 vs Winner 2 (21:00, Munich)


Saturday 3 July

QF3: Winner 3 vs Winner 1 (18:00, Baku)
QF4: Winner 8 vs Winner 7 (21:00, Rome)

Rest days on 4 and 5 July

Semi-finals


Tuesday 6 July

SF1: Winner QF2 vs Winner QF1 (21:00, London)
Wednesday 7 July

SF2: Winner QF4 vs Winner QF3 (21:00, London)

Rest days on 8, 9, 10 July


Final


Sunday 11 July

Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2 (21:00, London)

Results >>

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Most of the U.S. missed out on the "ring of fire" piece of year's first solar eclipse on Thursday (June 10), but parts of the East Coast caught a stunning sunrise partial eclipse to make up for it.

The June 10 annular eclipse was mostly visible over Canada, Greenland and Siberia, plus a small sliver of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But skywatchers in a much wider range were able to catch the eclipse in partial phases. In many areas, the partial eclipse aligned closely with sunrise, making for a particularly eerie spectacle.

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