Welcome to Science Tuesday, Aledans! Are you ready for your weekly science news fix?
Fires Have Burned Three Percent of Amazon Rainforest in Twelve Years: In understory fires, flames generally reach only a few feet high. They often burn for weeks at a time, spreading a few feet per minute. To gauge the scale of understory fire activity, Morton and colleagues used observations from early in the dry season, from June to August, collected by MODIS – the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite.
Lightweight Galaxy is the Smallest Ever Found: What sets Segue 2 apart from a star cluster is the dark matter halo that acts as the galaxy’s glue, another study researcher, Evan Kirby, explained in a statement. By calculating the upper weight range of 25 of the major stars in the dwarf galaxy, Kirby and colleagues found that Segue 2 is 10 times less dense than previously estimated.
Early Tsunami Warning from Earthquake Sounds: “We’ve found that there’s a strong correlation between the amplitude of the sound waves and the tsunami wave heights,” co-author Eric Dunham, a Stanford geophysicist, said in a statement. “Sound waves propagate through water 10 times faster than the tsunami waves, so we can have knowledge of what’s happening a hundred miles offshore within minutes of an earthquake occurring. We could know whether a tsunami is coming, how large it will be and when it will arrive.”
Humans Reached South Asia 60,000 Years Ago: The new data suggest humans left Africa to arrive in South Asia around 55,000 to 60,000 years ago — long after the Mount Toba supereruption 74,000 years ago. That contradicts some archaeologists’ claims that modern humans have been living in the region for twice that long.
Iceman Mummy Suffered Head Blow Before Death: Ever since a pair of hikers stumbled upon his astonishingly well-preserved frozen body in the Alps in 1991, Ötzi has become one of the most-studied ancient human specimens. His face, last meal, clothing and genome have been reconstructed — all contributing to a picture of Ötzi as a 45-year-old, hide-wearing, tattooed agriculturalist who was a native of Central Europe and suffered from heart disease, joint pain, tooth decay and probably Lyme disease before he died.
Weightless Flames, How Fires Burn in Space: How do you put out a fire on a space station? If you were to ask an Earthbound firefighter how to extinguish a fire, he might tell you to aim for the base of the flame. But what if there is no base? What if the flame is a large, pulsing ball of intense fire?
Honestly, I added that last link because they’re doing the experiments on something called the “Vomit Comet” and that made me giggle. Why yes, I am a five-year-old on the inside.
Researchers Plan Honey Bee Sperm Bank: After collecting bee semen from all over the world, three subspecies have been identified as having suitable genes for New World climate zones. The semen will be collected from the strongest and best stock in Europe, then injected into the strongest and best queen bee stock from the United States. Live semen will survive at room temperature for about 10-14 days, allowing for collection and transport back to the lab, where it can be frozen or injected into a queen bee’s oviduct to fertilize it.
Giant Mosquitoes Emerge in Central Florida: According to the TV station, the quarter-sized insects were first spotted in Seminole County late last week. The aggressive bloodsuckers “can bite right through your clothing and give you a good pinch, more painful than an ordinary mosquito bite,” University of Florida natural-resources agent Ken Gioeli told West Palm Beach–based WPTV back in March.
Cannons to be Recovered From Blackbeard’s Pirate Ship: A team of archaeologists plans to recover eight cannons from the wreck of Blackbeard’s pirate ship this summer off the coast of Beaufort Inlet, N.C., according to a news report. The team hopes to lift three of the cannons from the wreckage this week, WUNC reported. The ship sank in June 1718, after running aground nearby.
English Flying Reptiles Had Brazilian Relatives: The new study is the first comprehensive look at the dizzying array of pterosaur bone fragments found in England. These fossils, which date back to the Cretaceous period, are all fragmentary. Though they were first excavated more than a century ago, the fossils have been difficult to identify thanks to the lack of full bones. Now, Taissa Rodrigues, a pterosaur researcher at the Federal University of Espirito Santo in Brazil, has built an English pterosaur family tree of sorts, sifting through the fossil fragments to identify 14 species with certainty.
Cheetah’s Secret Weapon: A Tight Turning Radius: Anyone who has watched a cheetah run down an antelope knows that these cats are impressively fast. But it turns out that speed is not the secret to their prodigious hunting skills: a novel study of how cheetahs chase prey in the wild shows that it is their agility — their skill at leaping sideways, changing directions abruptly and slowing down quickly — that gives those antelope such bad odds.
Ancient Kangaroo Teeth Reveal Australia’s Tropical Past: The fossilized teeth of ancient marsupials that roamed through northeastern Australia roughly 2.5 million years ago suggest these animals fed on leafy plants in a much more lush and tropical environment than was previously thought, according to a new study.
Stem Cells In Fingernails are the Key to Regrowing Amputated Finger Tips: Following an unfortunate door slamming incident, the California-based Kulkarni nearly lost hope after doctors said her fingertip couldn’t be reattached, according to CNN. Kulkarni sought the second opinion of Dr. Stephen Badylak, a University of Pittsburgh doctor who claimed he could regrow detached fingertips using a wound powder called MatriStem. Dr. Badylak treated Kulkarni for seven weeks with MatriStem and the fingertip returned.
A ‘Bonanza’ of Black Holes: As their name suggests, black holes are tough to find. These latest 26 black holes were found using more than 13 years of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Scientists say they expect to find more in the galaxy, where nine had already been identified using previous research, bringing the total discovered there to 35.
Distantly Orbiting Alien World May Challenge Planet-Formation Theories: It should thus take the potential TW Hydrae planet more than 200 times longer to form than it took Jupiter, which lies just 500 million miles (800 million km) from the sun, researchers said. Jupiter is thought to have taken shape over the course of 10 million years or so. But the numbers don’t add up, because TW Hydrae, which is 55 percent as massive as the sun, is just 8 million years old.
First Flourescent Protien Identified in a Vertebrate: The Japanese freshwater eel (Anguilla japonica) has more to offer biologists than a tasty sushi snack. Its muscle fibres produce the first fluorescent protein identified in a vertebrate, researchers report in Cell.
Plastic Could Protect Astronauts from Deep Space Radiation: An instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) found that plastic reduces the radiation dose from fast-moving charged particles called galactic cosmic rays. Scientists have long suspected that this is the case, but the new results provide a vital confirmation in deep space, researchers said.
Atomic Clocks to Become Even More Accurate: Keeping extremely precise time is not just a question of scientific achievement. It is a key to many modern technologies, from Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to mobile phone networks and broadcasters’ transmitters. For GPS systems, an error of just one nanosecond, or a billionth of a second, would mean the location is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) off.
Does Geography Influence How a Language Sounds? Using an online database that categorizes languages based on their features, Everett analyzed the locations of about 600 of the world’s 7,000 or so languages. He found that 92 of the languages he looked at contained ejective consonants. Ejectives are sounds produced with an intensive burst of air and are not found in the English language. Moreover, most of the languages containing ejectives were spoken in, or near, five out of six high-altitude regions around the world. A high-altitude region was defined as being more than 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) above sea level.
That’s it for this week, Aledans. Stop by again next week for your weekly science fix!
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