China Sets Up Global Quantum Communications Network

China has begun establishing quantum communications networks in several cities, and is currently building a 1,000-km quantum communications line connecting Beijing and Shanghai. Based on the principles of quantum physics, quantum communication provides a new way to process information, including encoding, storage, transmission and logic operations, as well as the precise manipulation of photons, atoms and other microscopic particles, the People’s Daily reported on Tuesday. “Traditionally, secure encryption and transmission of information is dependent on complex algorithms,” said Pan Jianwei, a Chinese quantum scientist and professor at the University of…

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Promising lab-grown skin sprouts hair and grows glands

Scientists in Japan have successfully transplanted mice with lab-grown skin that has more of the organ’s working parts in place than ever before. Starting with stem cells made from a mouse’s gums, they managed to craft skin with multiple layers – as well as hair follicles and sweat glands. When implanted into a “nude mouse” with a suppressed immune system, it integrated well and sprouted hairs. Researchers say this success will take 5-10 years to translate into humans. But eventually, the team hopes their system will lead to perfectly functioning…

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Ocean heating doubles

The ocean is taking heat. That’s the conclusion of a new study that finds that Earth’s oceans now absorb heat at twice the rate they did 18 years ago. Around half of ocean heat uptake since 1865 has taken place since 1997, researchers also report online January 18 in Nature Climate Change. Warming waters are known to contribute to coral bleaching (SN Online: 10/8/15) and they take up more space than cooler waters, raising sea levels. While the top of the ocean is well studied, its depths are trickier to…

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Time running out on comet lander

Time is running out for the Philae comet lander. The latest attempts to communicate with the probe have failed. And with temperatures plummeting as the comet races from the sun, it will soon be too cold for the robotic explorer to keep its computer running. On January 10, engineers sent a command to spin Philae’s reaction wheel, which helped stabilize the lander during its descent. They hoped to nudge the lander into sunlight or at least shake several months of comet dust off its solar panels. Philae did not respond.…

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Self-Filling Water Bottle Converts Humid Air into Drinkable H2O

When water is scarce, why not pull it out of thin air? An industrial designer in Austria is hoping to do just that (well, sort of). Kristof Retezár, a designer based in Vienna, invented a device that can extract humidity from the air and condense it into drinkable water. The handy gadget, dubbed Fontus, can be attached to a bike so that cyclists can generate water during long-distance rides through the countryside, where pit stops may be few and far between. Fontus works using the basic principle of condensation, which…

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