Science Tuesday: I Feel Bad for the Mice.

Life is crazy and hectic and today is Wednesday and I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a broken record here, Aledans. So even though life is crazy and hectic and today is Wednesday, I’m putting up a Science Tuesday post! This week’s major theme seemed to be all the horrible things we’re doing to mice, but don’t worry, there’s a nice little treat at the end.

Mammatus Clouds, by NOAA.
Mammatus Clouds, by NOAA.

Video captures formation of rare mammatus clouds over Mich: A video captured a rare meteorological event in the skies over Michigan last week when mammatus clouds formed over the Upper Peninsula. The orange globular-shaped clouds are formed when air sinks, unlike most clouds, and can be an indicator of a thunderstorm.

That looks so cool! Like a lava lamp in the sky!

Scientists pump carbon dioxide into basalt: Environmental engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state are pumping carbon dioxide into the Columbia River Basalt formation to see if the gas can be permanently stored there. “We are returning the carbon dioxide from whence it came,” said Pete McGrail, who is leading the experiment to enclose carbon dioxide within the porous rock.

Juvenile zebrafish can regenerate heart tissue: The heart of a 2-day-old transparent zebrafish stands out in one of the winning photos in the British Heart Foundation’s heart and blood vessel photography contest. Young zebrafish can regenerate damaged heart tissue, and understanding how this occurs “may one day help victims of heart attacks recover,” said the photographer, Jana Koth of the BHF Center of Research Excellence at Oxford University.

Scientists implant false memories in mice brains: Scientists using light bursts to the hippocampus portion of the brains of mice say they have implanted false memories of pain, according to a report in the recent issue of Science. Researchers say the findings show how easily memories can be altered.

Sheemie, why would you want to make someone think they were in pain when they weren’t?

Study of mummies’ hair gives researchers insight into Incan ritual: Researchers studying the hair of three Incan mummies found that one had large amounts of alcohol and coca in its system, which may have been used as a sedative in a sacrificial ritual. The findings by archaeologists from the University of Bradford in the U.K. are helping them understand the ancient Andean ritual known as capacocha.

Exploration, experience lead babies to be wary of heights, study says: A study suggests that as babies gain mobility and begin exploring their environment, they begin to develop a fear of heights based on visual clues and experience. Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Doshisha University in Kyoto wrote in Psychological Science of babies’ early fearlessness: “One major benefit of such a delay is that infants are more prone to explore their environment and the movement possibilities afforded by that environment when they are less concerned about the consequences of their actions.”

Wood borers offer insights into unlocking sugars from biomass: A group of researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is looking into the biofuel potential of a kind of wood borer that thrives in extreme environments and creates its own biomass-processing enzyme. By studying Limnoria quadripunctata, the researchers hope to replicate its self-produced enzyme’s ability to remain active in high-solids and low-water conditions.

Global network to search for crops’ missing wild relatives: Scientists say that the wild relatives of key world food crops are missing from seed gene banks, and need to be collected and stored, according to a study published on the Crop Wild Relatives website. A global effort led by the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, plans to collect the missing relatives and use them to help crops adapt to climate change. “We need to give crops the means to defend themselves,” said Kew’s Jonas Mueller.

Reintroduction of wolves aids Yellowstone’s bears: Since wolves have been reintroduced to the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park, they’ve indirectly helped their grizzly bear neighbors, according to a study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology. When wolves were missing from the park, elk herds grew and ate most of the berries that are an important part of the bears’ diet. The study has found that the wolves are thinning out the elk, leaving more berries for the bears.

Pair of studies look into how practice of monogamy evolved: A pair of studies focusing on monogamy have come to different conclusions. Evolutionary biologists at the University of Cambridge in England found that species became monogamous because the females lived apart from the males, while researchers from University College in London said the practice came about so that males could protect their offspring from rivals. The studies, which used similar research methods, were published Monday in Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, respectively.

Scientists discover tiny ride-hitching wasp: Researchers have discovered a new species of wasp that rides on the bellies of damselflies and lays its eggs on the eggs of the larger insects. “I’ve got 25 years of experience doing this, and when I looked at these things I didn’t know what family they belonged to,” said Andrew Polaszek of the Division of Terrestrial Invertebrates at the Natural History Museum in London, and the study’s co-author.

Fruit is a part of crocodiles’ diet: Researchers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Charleston, S.C., have found that crocodiles, though carnivorous, also eat fruit. Investigators studied the stomach contents of American alligators living in Everglades National Park in Florida, and noted fruit in the remains.

Massive mushroom found in China: A giant mushroom weighing 33 pounds was found in China’s Yunnan province, according to Science World Report. The species of the hefty fungus has yet to be identified.

Inside NASA’s next space capsule: NASA has released photos of a mock-up of its CST-100 space capsule that the space agency hopes will allow the U.S. to again launch astronauts into space. The full-scale prototype built by Boeing recently underwent a series of tests before its design is finalized.

Researchers grow teeth from stem cells: A team of researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou has successfully grown teeth inside mouse kidneys using stem cells from human urine. They combined the stem cells with mouse connective tissue cells for two days and implanted the cells under the kidney’s outer layer where the cells transformed into dental epithelial tissue and eventually became the enamel.

Because growing teeth from urine isn’t nasty enough, they did it inside a mouse kidney. Sometimes I wonder if scientists have too much time on their hands.

Research: Naturally occurring chemical can help regenerate organs, speed healing: Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston have used a naturally occurring chemical to show that it promotes organ regeneration. The scientists injected epoxyeicosatrienoic acids into mice after removing a lung or part of the liver and found evidence of tissue growth and swifter healing.

For Trina, can we give the mice a break, already? I have a special place in my heart for mice.

Cuthbert the Mouse (who ended up being female...oops)
Cuthbert the Mouse (who ended up being female…oops)

Dinosaur brains were built for flight, study finds: Using CT scans to examine modern birds, nonflying dinosaurs and one of the earliest known birds, researchers at the American Museum of Natural History in New York have found that dinosaurs had the potential for flight in their brains much earlier than previously thought. “What we think of as birdlike features — they keep falling down the evolutionary tree,” said Amy Balanoff, lead author of the study.

Rising oxygen levels are linked to carnivore evolution: A new study links rising oxygen levels with the evolution of carnivores, which spurred the Cambrian explosion 540 million years ago. Research at Harvard University combines two competing models about how carnivorous animals came to be. “There’s always been this tension. Each side is looking at their own data, which is often common in science,” said study lead author Erik Sperling.

Scientists engineer mice to be susceptible to hepatitis C: A new strain of mouse susceptible to hepatitis C has been engineered to help scientists in their efforts to create a vaccine for the virus, according to Princeton University. The mice will be an alternative to chimpanzees, which are being phased out as test subjects.

Sorry, mice.

Middle-income countries’ growth is tied to investments in basic science, study says: Researchers from the Center for Strategic Studies at Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela have found a correlation between the economic growth of middle-income countries and their productivity in basic scientific research. “The results of our paper demonstrate that the most important thing [for sustainable development] is to invest in basic sciences. Those who try to skip this step fail,” said Klaus Jaffe, lead author of the paper published in PLoS One in June.

Geneticists trace human origins back 135,000 years: The first man and the first woman lived about 135,000 years ago, much earlier than previous studies have suggested, according to evidence from a Stanford University study of the male, or Y, chromosome. Geneticists sequenced the entire genome of the Y chromosome for 69 men from around the world to reach their findings.

New ant species found in Central America: Scientists have identified 33 new species of ant found in Central America and the Caribbean. “The new species were found mostly in small patches of forest that remain in a largely agricultural landscape, highlighting the importance of forest conservation efforts in Central America,” said entomologist Jack Longino of the University of Utah.

Documentary filmmaker finds new species of spider in Laos: A new species of spider wandered into the sight of a scientist filming a nature documentary in Laos. Arachnologist Peter Jäger of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany dubbed the little creature Ctenus monaghani, after actor Dominic Monaghan, who appears in the film.

A spider named after a Hobbit!

Scientists develop solar-powered sterilization devices: Two solar-powered sterilization devices developed by scientists at Rice University in Texas could help developing nations sterilize medical equipment and waste products without the need for electricity. The devices use water and gold nanoparticles placed in sunshine using a solar dish to produce steam.

Molecule shows promise in halting TB: Microbiologists at the Pasteur Institute Korea have singled out a synthetic antibacterial molecule that has been successful in treating tuberculosis in mice. Researchers studied more than 120,000 compounds over five years before culling the list down to one promising candidate that inhibits the TB bacteria’s growth, according to the findings published in Nature Medicine.

Novel compounds target formation of amyloid peptides: A study published in Nature Communications has uncovered the mechanisms behind two types of compounds that could help fight Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are testing the two compounds to target gamma secretase, the enzyme that cuts longer proteins into components including the form of amyloid peptide that aggregates into toxic plaques. The latest research helps explain how the new compounds interact with gamma secretase.

By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D
Coffee grounds used to make alcoholic beverage: Researchers have fermented used coffee grounds to create a hard-liquor drink comparable to vodka and tequila. The beverage contains 40% ethanol, according to the study, set to be published in September in LWT — Food and Science Technology.

That sounds like the perfect drink to me! I bet the mice would like it.

~~~~~

That’s it for this week, Aledans. Come back next week for more science goodness and I’ll try to get it up on Tuesday this time 😉

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Published by

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.

4 thoughts on “Science Tuesday: I Feel Bad for the Mice.”

  1. Oops. Tried to comment before but I think the internet gremlins may have eaten it. 🙂

    Thanks for the cool science tidbits. Amazing how real life science can be weirder than fiction. Of course, it’s great inspiration for stories.

    I’m with you on the mice. They need a nice cup of coffee booze.

    1. Maybe the scientists can start doing their experiments on the computer gremlins, rather than the mice 🙂

      Definitely great inspiration for stories. In fact, I was inspired by one of the link last week and I just finished storylining a new book! I can’t wait to start writing it – I just have to do a little research first.

  2. I hear about the fake memories implanted in mice (someone on the radio said the scientists “inceptioned” the animals), but I didn’t know it was a pain memory. :-/ At the rate the little guys are getting manipulated, we may have some Pinkie and the Brain mice walking around, trying to take over the world.

    Thanks again for a great list. I just love how the more scientists explore stuff, they uncover even more! New ants, new spiders, different dinosaur physiology, humans older than expected. I read somewhere (leave it to me to forget the source) that a geneticist said that genes were way more complicated than they expected even after genome mapping. I love that they keep exploring and discovering, but I giggle that they are surprised that they are still discovering things. 😀

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