Happy last day of winter, Aledans! Tomorrow it’s officially spring, and I saw the first wisteria bloom yesterday, which is how I know it’s spring. Let’s celebrate with some science-y goodness 🙂
If you missed it last week, Science Tuesday is my new feature where I gather up all the science articles that I found interesting over the past week. They aren’t necessarily the biggest news items this week, but they’re the ones that interested me enough to read and post on G+ and Twitter.
In absolutely random order, here’s this week’s science goodness!
How the Rhinoceros Beetle Got Its Horns: Turns out the horns are hollow and dry, so they produce no drag when the beetles fly. How awesome!
Pentagon Weapons-Maker Finds Method For Cheap, Clean Water: But how do you clean the salt molecules off the graphene sheet?
Neanderthal’s Doomed by Vision-Centered Brains: Because Neanderthals devoted more brain space to processing sight, they had less room for social cognition and may have died out as a result.
Japan Taps “Firey-Ice” Fuel From Seabed: This one has me at odds.
On the one hand: Worldwide, the energy stored in hydrates is greater than all other energy sources combined.
But on the other hand: Removing crystallised methane from the sea floor could destabilise the seabed and cause landslides. And if methane escapes from the deep well in the Nankai trough, it will dissolve in the water and acidify the local area, potentially harming ocean life. Hydrate mining in shallower waters could pose further problems. If methane escapes into the atmosphere, it could contribute to global warming. Measured over a century, methane is 25 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
Parrots Barter With Nuts: This is pretty cool considering I know some adult humans who can’t show self-restraint.
Field Museum, UIC Anthropologists Find Ancient Coin: Anthropologists from the Field Museum and the University of Illinois at Chicago recently led an expedition that unearthed a rare 600-year-old coin on an island off of Kenya that proves China traded with African countries before European explorers set sail.
Sex in Space: Plant Canoodling Is Weird: Quite the headline! And although the article says “In order to actually do long-term plant cultivation, we have to look for species that can actually reproduce under zero gravity conditions” one of my commenters is working on artificial gravity so we don’t have to worry about the weirdness of plant sex in space.
Early Bird Species Had Four Wings: This is cool. Basal birds probably used their leg feathers to help with flight, effectively giving them four wings.
Chemosynthetic Microbial Ecosystem Discovered In Ocean Crust: I love that we’re always so surprised when we find life somewhere (in this case, the rock layer of the ocean floor)
Medieval Knight’s Tomb Found Beneath Parking Lot: Obviously we need to search all parking lots in the UK, since we keep finding cool stuff buried underneath them.
Five-million-year-old Saber-toothed Cat Discovered in Florida: “The new species shows that the most famous saber-toothed cat, Smilodon, had a New World origin and it and its ancestors lived in the southeastern U.S. for at least 5 million years before their extinction about 11,000 years ago. Compared to what we knew about these earlier saber-toothed cats 20 or 30 years ago, we now have a much better understanding of this group.”
Fluorescence Could Indicate Health of Corals: The results show that fluorescence can be a good marker of the health of corals. In fact, it could be an easier, less invasive method of monitoring corals than those currently used, including analyzing corals collected from reefs back in labs. Fluorescence can be monitored without disturbing the coral and directly at the reef site, and could indicate that the coral is in poor health before it bleaches.
And that’s it for the past week of interesting science news. I hope you enjoyed growing your brain with science!
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