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  • Lorraine Kim

Current Events in STEM-6/2

Technology - Revolutionizing in Olfaction

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling computers to detect and interpret odors, thanks to pioneering work by researchers from Osmo and Google Brain. They have developed a neural network that is capable of mapping odors based on their chemical structures, allowing the AI to predict the smells of novel molecules. This breakthrough holds significant potential for applications in health diagnostics, safety, and consumer products. 


However, several challenges remain. One major hurdle is accurately interpreting complex scent mixtures and varying odor concentrations. Future research efforts are focused on refining these models and expanding their applications, with the ultimate goal of fully digitizing the sense of smell for machines. As these AI systems become more sophisticated, their ability to mimic human olfaction can revolutionize multiple industries and improve the quality of life in unprecedented ways.


Physics - Exploring the Unknown: The Quest to Discover 'Tauonium' Atoms

Scientists are exploring the possibility of detecting "tauonium," a theoretical atom made of a tau lepton and its antitau counterpart. This effort aims to use future particle colliders in China or Russia to create tauonium by colliding electrons and positrons. The discovery of tauonium could advance the understanding of quantum electrodynamics (QED) by providing a simpler system without an atomic nucleus, potentially reducing experimental uncertainties. Led by Jing-Hang Fu and his team, this research represents a remarkable step in particle physics.

Planetary Science - Unveiling Our Mysterious Neighbor, Venus

A new analysis of data from NASA's Magellan spacecraft suggests that Venus might still be volcanically active. Previously thought to be dormant, Venus has long been considered a dead planet due to its thick, toxic atmosphere and extreme surface temperatures. Researchers have reevaluated, however, the data collected by the Magellan spacecraft in the 1990s, identifying features on the planet's surface indicative of recent volcanic activity. These findings challenge previous assumptions about Venus's geological activity and could significantly impact our understanding of the planet's evolution and potential habitability.


Source: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/venus-active-volcanoes-magellan-data

Math - Unlocking the secrets of fractal formation

A recent research revealed how certain bacteria have a remarkable ability to form intricate fractal patterns through the aggregation of proteins. Fractals are complex geometric shapes that repeat infinitely at every scale. Scientists have long been fascinated by their presence in nature, and this study sheds light on the biological mechanisms behind their formation. By studying a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis, researchers discovered that a specific protein, TasA, plays a crucial role in organizing bacterial colonies into fractal-like structures. These findings not only deepen our understanding of bacterial behavior and self-organization but also offer insights into how fractals emerge in diverse biological systems.

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