Science Tuesday: Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey, and the Oldest Map of the New World.

Hello Aledans! I’ve been a busy bee this week, but I have all your sciencey goodness to satisfy that craving I can see in your eyes. There’s even a bit of Dr Who related mischief in it. Enjoy!

Honeybee, by Fir0002 [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Honeybee, by Fir0002 [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Bee colony deaths tied to pesticides in pollen: The collapse of millions of beehives in North America has been linked to an intricate web of chemicals found in pollen sprayed with pesticide, according to a study. Researchers from the University of Maryland and the Department of Agriculture collected pollen from seven kinds of crops along the East Coast where Colony Collapse Disorder has been particularly prevalent and fed them to healthy bees, which were then more likely to become infected with a parasite known to cause CCD. Pollen samples contained an average of nine types of pesticides, the scientists found.

New species of tiny clam found along Pacific: A new species of tiny clam has been found living in sea urchin spines along the Pacific Coast. The clam has been dubbed Waldo arthuri, said invertebrate zoologist Paul Valentich-Scott of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, whose colleague found the clam in the mid-1980s but could not identify it.

Dust cloud from meteor blast over Russia leaves lasting impression: A bus-sized meteor that exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February left a lingering dust cloud in Earth’s atmosphere, NASA scientists say. Researchers tracked the cloud for months using NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite. “Indeed, we saw the formation of a new dust belt in Earth’s stratosphere, and achieved the first space-based observation of the long-term evolution of a bolide plume,” said Nick Gorkavyi, an atmospheric physicist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who led the study.

Dream Chaser space plane aces ground tests: The privately built Dream Chaser space plane — which officials hope will one day take astronauts to and from the International Space Station — has passed several key tests. “The dedicated Dream Chaser team has been putting the test spacecraft through comprehensive integrated testing on the runway, ramps and hangar of the historic California site, finding issues on the ground and addressing them in preparation for upcoming free flights,” said NASA’s Cheryl McPhillips, who is working with the plane’s maker, Sierra Nevada, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability program. Testing took place at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California.

Simulated ball lightning gives clues to actual phenomenon: To better understand ball lightning, researchers at the U.S. Air Force Academy have created a form of the phenomenon in the lab, maintaining them for nearly a half second. Building on previous research, the team manipulated conditions to get the balls to last as long as possible. “Our research showed that there was still room to increase the lifetime and we’re in the process of further reaching those conditions,” said Mike Lindsay, who led the study.

Remains found in Irish bog date back 4,000 years: A 4,000-year-old mummified body found in a bog in Ireland could be the oldest “bog body” ever found in the world. Researchers performed radiocarbon tests on the remains, unearthed two years ago in the Cul na Mona bog in Cashel, and examined the peat and a wooden stake found with it to date it to 2,000 B.C.

Spice trade may have reached as far as Israel 3,000 years ago: Traces of cinnamon have been found inside 3,000-year-old flasks in Israel. Researchers examined 27 flasks from five dig sites, finding cinnamaldehyde, which gives the spice its flavor, in 10 of them, suggesting “the intriguing possibility that long-range spice trade from the Far East westward may have taken place some 3,000 years ago,” researchers wrote in a report set to be published in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.

Researchers: Ancient Egyptians used meteorite iron as jewelry: Ancient Egyptians considered meteorite iron a precious metal and used it in jewelry, research by the University College London suggests. “Iron beads were strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as lapis lazuli, gold and carnelian, revealing the status of meteoritic iron as a special material on a par with precious metal and gem stones,” according to a report in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Atlantic Ocean iron plume surprises researchers: A prolific plume of iron rising up from the Atlantic seafloor has researchers scratching their heads. “We had never seen anything like it,” said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist Mak Saito, lead author of the study. “We were sort of shocked. There’s this huge bull’s-eye right in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. We didn’t quite know what to do with it, because it went contrary to a lot of our expectations.” Until this find, the Atlantic Ocean hadn’t been known to produce much iron.

Puzzling sea-level dip in 2010 may be solved: A drop in sea levels by 0.28 inches in 2010 perplexed scientists who had seen a steady rise since 1993. Now, one researcher thinks he knows why. An unusual amount of rain fell in Australia in 2010-2011, filling up a typically dry basin that never drained back into the ocean, said John Fasullo, a National Center for Atmospheric Research climate scientist. “Monitoring climate is intimately tied to monitoring sea level. So understanding why you would have this brief hiatus in sea-level rise is really key to our understanding of the climate system and being able to monitor the system,” he said.

Massive volcanic activity seen on Jupiter moon Io: Plumes of lava from massive eruptions have been seen on Jupiter’s volcano-covered moon Io. The Keck II telescope in Hawaii on Thursday spied fountains of spewing molten rock over 12 square miles. “We try to look at Io at every opportunity in the hope of seeing something like this. This time we got lucky,” said NASA’s Ashley Davies of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Vikings weren’t the first to find Faroe Islands, archaeologists say: Vikings weren’t the first to colonize the Faroe Islands, which are considered the stepping stone to the discovery of North America, researchers say. Archaeologists have uncovered clues pointing to settlers on the Faroes, between Norway and Iceland, 300 to 500 years before the Vikings landed in the ninth century. “Although we don’t know who the people were that settled here and where they came from, it is clear that they did prepare peat for use by cutting, drying and burning it, which indicates they must have stayed here for some time,” said Simun Arge, a researcher at the National Museum of the Faroe Islands.

Culinary cavemen seasoned their food, study finds: Prehistoric cooks seasoned their meals, according to a study published in PLoS ONE. Researchers analyzed deposits inside cooking pots found at various sites in the Danish Straits, finding residue of garlic-mustard seed, suggesting that “hunter-gatherers at the transition to agriculture had a sophisticated attitude to cooking,” said bioarchaeologist Hayley Saul of the University of York in England, who led the study.

Whale sharks reveal favorite dining spots to researchers: Globe-trotting whale sharks regularly return from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the waters along the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula to feed between May and September, according to a long-term tracking study. “From this one feeding area, these animals spread out over vast parts of the region. … Clearly they are returning to this site to fuel up on the rich food that’s there to carry them through much of the rest of the year,” said study co-author Robert Hueter of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

Weizenbier, by Trexer (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Weizenbier, by Trexer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Drink up, mate: Researchers brew beer that won’t cause hangovers: Scientists in Australia say they have developed a beer that could prevent hangovers. Researchers at Griffith University’s Health Institute in Queensland added electrolytes, commonly used in sports drinks, to beer, making it more hydrating. “Of the four different beers the subjects consumed, our augmented light beer was by far the most well retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at rehydrating the subjects,” said associate professor Ben Desbrow, who led the study.

This could get dangerous.

NASA studies viability of warp-drive technology: The dream of warp-drive technology in space travel may become a reality, thanks to research at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. In small-scale experiments, the scientists imagine a football-shaped spacecraft encircled by two large rings, which would contract space-time in front of the craft and expand it behind it. These experiments are the first step in determining if these concepts can be applied practically, according to NASA physicist Harold “Sonny” White.

This sounds very wibbly-wobbly! And in related news:

Time travel possible with wormholes, astrophysicist says: Wormholes could be used to travel through time, says astrophysicist Eric Davis of the EarthTech International Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin. The problem, though, is that wormholes and traveling back in time are still theoretical, but Davis is undeterred: “I am confident that, since [general relativity] theory has not failed yet, that its predictions for time machines, warp drives and wormholes remain valid and testable.”

Very Timey-Wimey.

BMI may not be accurate predictor of fitness, study suggests: Metabolism and body mass index do not go hand-in-hand, according to a study published in the journal Science. According to the study, it is possible to have a normal-range BMI while also having an abnormal metabolism, indicating that it’s not prudent to rely on BMI alone as an indicator of fitness.

Adelie penguins flourished during Little Ice Age, scientists say: Antarctic Adelie penguins appear to have thrived during the Little Ice Age between 1490 and 1670, a team of Chinese scientist said. Zhou-Quing Xie of the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, China, and his colleagues examined penguin guano found on Ross Island off the coast of Antarctica to determine the rise and fall of the penguins’ populations. The findings were published Thursday in Scientific Reports.

Deadly virus linked to Egyptian tomb bats: Egyptian tomb bats have been linked to the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome, which has been spreading in the region for more than a year. Scientists tracked a small fragment of the virus genome to the bat, suggesting that the virus originates with the creatures.

Mothers may pass good bacteria to their babies through breast-feeding: Strains of good bacteria, including Bifidobacterium breve and several types of Clostridium bacteria, were found in breast milk and in feces of mothers and their babies, a Swiss study showed. The findings, published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, suggest that “bacteria can actually travel from the mother’s gut to her breast milk,” study author Christophe Lacroix said.

Ostrich egg globe believed to be oldest to depict the New World: A globe dating to the early 1500s is believed to be the oldest that depicts the New World, according to research published in The Portolan, the journal of the Washington Map Society. Tests show that the globe, made from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, was made around 1504 in Italy and may have been used to cast the copper Lenox globe, which was previously considered the oldest globe to show the Americas.

That is so cool!

The Lenox Globe. As illustrated in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th edition, Volume X, 1874, Fig.2.
The Lenox Globe. As illustrated in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th edition, Volume X, 1874, Fig.2.

600-year-old, poison-concealing ring found in Bulgaria: A ring that may have been used to hide poison more than 600 years ago has been unearthed at the Cape Kailakra ruins in Bulgaria. The bronze ring has a discreet cavity and a hole that would have allowed its wearer to surreptitiously deposit poison into a glass, say researchers at Bulgaria’s National Archaeology Museum.

Drones survey, protect ancient sites in Peru: Drones are helping archaeologists survey and protect dig sites in Peru. The drones, which are better known for their military applications, help speed up mapping sites and keep an eye out for squatters looking to move in on the ruins. “We see them as a vital tool for conservation,” said Ana Maria Hoyle, a Culture Ministry archaeologist.

~~~~~

That’s it for this week, Aledans. Come back next week for another mouth-watering dose of science news.

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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.

One thought on “Science Tuesday: Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey, and the Oldest Map of the New World.”

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