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Gizmorama - March 12, 2018

Good Morning,

Do you appreciate science? Well, a new survey says that the world is rather under-appreciative of science as a whole. Where do you stand?

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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* 'State of Science' survey suggests science is under-appreciated *

A new survey funded by chemical and manufacturing company 3M suggests "science" is under appreciated by the world's population.

"We wanted to understand what the pulse of science was, what the sentiment about science was around the globe," Dr. Jayshree Seth, 3M's chief science advocate, told UPI.

In many ways, survey respondents offered mixed messages. The majority of people are optimistic about the ability of science to solve problems, and almost everyone said they would encourage their children to pursue a science degree or career. But only half of the respondents said they themselves regretted not pursuing a career in the sciences.

Many remain skeptical of the promise of science. More than 40 percent believe science causes just as many problems as it solves.

"The biggest surprise was four out of 10 people said that if science didn't exist, their lives would be the same," Seth said. "The responses suggest some lack of awareness and appreciation of the benefits of science."

Nearly a third of all respondents said they're skeptical of science, and 20 percent distrust scientists. Some 36 percent of people said a career in science was only possible for "geniuses."

The survey, carried out by Ipsos, a global market research firm, posed questions about science to 14,036 adults living in 14 different countries.

Respondents in developing countries -- nations with less mature but quickly expanding economies -- were more likely to be optimistic about scientific advancements and the possibility for breakthroughs like flying cars and manipulation of the weather.

Seth and her colleagues at 3M hope the survey will serve as a catalyst for conversations about the value of science, and that those conversations might lead to solutions about how to make science more accessible to everyone. More work needs to be done to address the gender gap in science, too, Seth said.

Breaking down the barriers to science appreciation and participation is vital to inspiring the next generation of problem solvers.

"We need a strong innovation pipeline with diverse thinking to unlock the secrets to a sustainable future," Seth said.

*-- Study explains how magnetic waves heat the sun --*

Scientists have discovered a new mechanism responsible for the heating of the solar atmosphere and the propulsion of solar winds.

The new research, published this week in the journal Nature Physics, suggests magnetic waves excite the sun's atmosphere, heating up the upper layers and propelling solar winds into space.

A unique wave produced by magnetized plasma was first theorized by Swedish physicist and engineer Hannes Alfvén in 1942. So-called Alfvén waves have been linked with a variety of phenomenon, including nuclear reactors and cometary clouds.

Scientists also theorized Alfvén waves allow the sun's atmosphere to maintain extremely high temperatures, but until now, researchers couldn't prove it.

"For a long time scientists across the globe have predicted that Alfvén waves travel upwards from the solar surface to break in the higher layers, releasing enormous amounts of energy in the form of heat," David Jess, physicist at Queen's University Belfast, said in a news release. "Over the last decade scientists have been able to prove that the waves exist but until now there was no direct evidence that they had the capability to convert their movement into heat."

Jess and his colleagues were able to -- for the first time -- detect the heat generated by Alfvén waves inside a sunspot.

"Our research opens up a new window to understanding how this phenomenon could potentially work in other areas such as energy reactors and medical devices," Jess said.

Scientists analyzed the magnetic fields inside sunspots using observations collected by the Dunn Solar Telescope in New Mexico and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The magnetic patterns observed by scientists recall the magnetic field produced by modern MRI machines -- only on more massive scales.

"By breaking the sun's light up into its constituent colors, our international team of researchers were able to examine the behavior of certain elements from the periodic table within the sun's atmosphere, including calcium and iron," said Queen's researcher Samuel Gran.

Researchers were able to remove the interference of theses elements from the images, revealing the conversion of Alfvén waves and their energy into shock waves. The intense flashes of light recalled the sonic boom produced by an aircraft breaking the sound barrier. As the shock wave ripples through the plasma in the solar atmosphere, it's release extreme heat.

"Using supercomputers, we were able to analyze the data and show for the first time in history that the Alfvén waves were capable of increasing plasma temperatures violently above their calm background," said Gran.


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