Science Tuesday: Googly-eyed Rats, Mammoth Blood, and Sweaty Starfish.

It’s Science Tuesday! And it’s actually Tuesday when I’m posting this. Let me preen a little. *preens* Now on to the science-y goodness!

Graphene, by AlexanderAlUS (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Graphene, by AlexanderAlUS (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Ultra Short Laser Pulses Squeezed Out of Graphene: Now, the researchers have improved their device to produce a broad spectrum of infrared wavelengths, which are useful in applications such as fibre optic communications. Moreover, their results, together with the known properties of graphene, suggest that the material should be able to yield similar ultrashort pulses over the entire spectrum of visible light as well, says Ferrari.

First Evidence of Leopard Eating Chimp: In Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains National Park, researchers spent 41 days collecting African leopard scat from June to August 2012 (summer internship, anyone?). In one of the cat’s “offerings,” scientists found several chimpanzee patella and phalanges, corresponding to kneecaps and toe bones, respectively. DNA analysis showed that the bones came from an adult female chimp.

That headline is phrased so poorly. It sounds like the Chimps are eating the Leopards (which would be much cooler than the leopards eating the chimps).

Mexican Cave Art Offers Peak Into Pre-Spanish Past: Almost 5,000 of these paintings were found across 11 different sites in the region, the researchers said. Created with red, yellow, black and white pigments, the images show animals from deer to lizards to centipedes, as well as people. Depictions of tents, hunting, fishing and possibly astronomical charts also offer a glimpse into the life of this mysterious culture.

Frozen Plants Come Back To Life After Hundreds of Years: In 2007, researchers were collecting long-frozen plant samples from the receding edges of the glacier when they noticed some bryophytes—plants which include mosses and mosslike liverworts—sprouting new parts. They dated a subset of the bryophytes and found that the plants ranged in age from 404 to 614 years old, confirming they were frozen during the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling lasting a few hundred years, which ended in the 19th century.

Smart Spiders Learn Best Way to Snag Prey: “Vertical web sectors are wider than horizontal web sectors, and more prey are expected to hit on vertical sectors,” Nakata told LiveScience. “This makes me imagine that the spider actively adds more tension on threads in vertical sectors in response to more past prey capture in these sectors.”

Googly Eyes Help Rats Watch for Birds: Researchers discovered that running rats are constantly moving their eyes in opposite directions, side to side and up and down, which lets them keep a permanent watch for predatory birds that might be hovering in the air.

Antarctica’s Ecosystem is 33-Million Years Old: The date is revealed by fossilized remnants of plankton found in Antarctic sediments, which show how plankton diversity plummeted when a big chill came along at the end of the Eocene Epoch and the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. Before the transition, Earth was a toastier place, and a wide array of plankton survived even at the poles.

Russian Scientists Find ‘Blood’ in 10,000-Year-Old Mammoth: …what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue. “When we broke the ice beneath her stomach, the blood flowed out from there, it was very dark,” Grigoryev, who is a scientist at the Yakutsk-based Northeastern Federal University, told AFP. “This is the most astonishing case in my entire life. How was it possible for it to remain in liquid form? And the muscle tissue is also red, the colour of fresh meat,” he added.

Despite Mammoth Blood Discovery, Cloning Still Unlikely: “To clone a mammoth by finding intact cells — and, more importantly, an intact genome — is going to be exceptionally difficult, likely impossible,” said Love Dalén, a paleogeneticist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. “Finding this mammoth makes it slightly less impossible.”

So much for that excitement.

Missing Moon Dust Discovered in Storage After 43 Years: Vials of moon dust collected by the first men to walk on the moon have been discovered in storage in California after being missing for more than 40 years.

Iron in Egyptian Relics Came From Space: The result, published on 20 May in Meteoritics & Planetary Science1, explains how ancient Egyptians obtained iron millennia before the earliest evidence of iron smelting in the region, solving an enduring mystery. It also hints that they regarded meteorites highly as they began to develop their religion.

Manned Mars Mission Could Pose High Radiation Risk: If they were to travel to Mars, astronauts would be exposed to two forms of cosmic radiation that don’t pose a serious risk on Earth. One of those sources of radiation — galactic cosmic rays — are difficult to shield against and regularly fly through space-faring vessels. On the other hand, the second source of radiation — solar energetic particles — can be at least partially blocked by robust shielding used to protect spaceflyers.

Ruby, by Humanfeather (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ruby, by Humanfeather (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Ruby and Jade First ‘Tectonic Gemstones’Scientists want to officially link precious gems to their geologic setting, with a new suite of tectonic gemstones that will help researchers and the public recognize the special conditions that create rare gems. Their proposal kicks off with ruby and jadeite jade, two rare stones linked to colliding tectonic plates.

Now I want to name a pair of characters Ruby and Jade.

Submarine Expedition to Explore Uncharted Caribbean Reef: The craft will look for new life beyond what is called the photic zone, at a depth of 650 feet (200 m), below which sunlight cannot support life. Creatures here survive in near-darkness and great pressure from the enormous bulk of water above.

Carbon Dating Confirms World’s Oldest Torah Scroll: This week, University of Bologna Professor Mauro Perani announced the results of carbon-14 tests authenticating the scroll’s age as roughly 800 years old.

The scroll dates to between 1155 and 1225, making it the oldest complete Torah scroll on record.

Heat Limit Found For Hot Worms at Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents: The fleshy pink Pompeii worm (Alvinella pompejana) is one of the most extreme of the deep-sea creatures, perching its long, bristly tubes right next to the shimmering vent fluids. Earlier research had pegged the Pompeii worm’s comfort zone as high as 140 F (60 C), far beyond that of other animals. But genetic and protein studies showed the worm’s tissues would unravel at such high temperatures, just like raw eggs change when cooked.

New Green-Eyed Butterfly is Rare American Discovery: The species looks similar to the Gray Ministreak, but what sets the two apart is the striking eye color of Vicroy’s Ministreak. The species had gone under the radar of scientists because in dead butterfly specimens, eye color fades, Glassberg explained.

How Starfish Sweat: Researchers found that the arms of surviving starfish were a few degrees warmer than the disk, as warm as 39°, suggesting that the animals shunted heat into their extremities. The strategy is not without a cost, however. In the days following the experiment, 16 of the surviving starfish severed their own heat-damaged arms, which are costly to regrow.

Starfish, Oregon Coast (my own photo).
Starfish, Oregon Coast (my own photo).

How the Turtle Got It’s Unique Hard Shell: A turtle fossil 210 million years old had a fully developed shell similar to those today, but 10 million years earlier, a fossil discovered in China, named Odontochelys semitestac, had an incomplete top shell, called a carapace.

Ancient Ceremonial Mask Oldest Unearthed in Japan: The wooden artifact, dating to the late second century, was excavated from ancient ruins known as the Daifuku Remains in Sakurai City in the western Japanese prefecture of Nara, the team announced.

Oh My Gods people, PROOFREAD! (Not talking about the dialogue here, but the rest of the article….and headline.)

~~~~~

That’s it for this week, Aledans. Stop by again next week for your weekly science fix!

If you want to receive the same daily science emails I do, you can sign up for the Sigma Xi SmartBrief here.

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Rebecca Enzor

Rebecca Enzor is a chemist in Charleston, SC who writes Young Adult and New Adult Fantasy and Magical Realism. Repped by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary.

One thought on “Science Tuesday: Googly-eyed Rats, Mammoth Blood, and Sweaty Starfish.”

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