With apologies to my regular readers, but I’ve been obliged to postpone Sunday Science stories for around 3 weeks due to a more than usually busy Autumn term. I hope to have something up for next Sunday!
Last Sunday Science of term…then I may actually have a bit of time to write other posts (oh wait, exam marking….). Anyway, in this week’s Sunday Science: AI navigation, the link between your immune system and grey hair, artificial photosynthesis, fantastic galactic phenomena, and why Eurovision makes you happy…. Continue reading
This week…a new human organ, hyperglycaemic fish that don’t get diabetes, a game to wise players up to fake news, hi-tech 3D printing, and malicious use of AI….
Welcome to this week’s Sunday Science, with pterosaur eggs, scallop eyes, sponges (of the animal kind), and some very tough women.
A huge cache of fossil pterosaur eggs has been discovered in China, giving remarkable clues as to their development and lifestyle (pictured).
A long-standing argument over the whether sponges or comb jellies are the sister group of animals may have been resolved, and it looks like the sponges are it. It does sound rather obscure, but it’s an important step forward for understanding animal evolution. That link is the original article: this did make the mainstream news (link for the non-specialist).
The largest tree-planting scheme in England for 30 years has been given the green light. Over 600,000 trees will be planted in Northumberland over the next two years. Good news for our heavily deforested country, and hopefully providing habitat for the red squirrel.
Prehistoric women were strong and tough. As in, really strong and tough, with better arm strength than elite rowers, a new study has found. This isn’t just a novel finding – it’s important to understanding the heavily overlooked history of female manual labour. (A news story based on this study may be found at Daily Science News here.)
And finally, scallop eyes work like teeny tiny telescopes:
Featured image via Nature.com, by Zhao Chuang.
Today in Sunday Science: diving flies, clever babies, nuclear thunderstorms and celebrity genes.
I remember being fascinated as a child by those beetles that used to dive in ponds, carrying a silvery bubble of air with them (and frequently trying to catch them – I hasten to add I always put them back). Now scientists have worked out how a tough species of fly stays dry when diving deep into the highly alkaline, salty waters of Lake Mono (featured image).
The mid-Cornwall moors have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, meaning the unique wildlife there will be protected.
Babies as young as 10 months are able to form judgements about how valuable a goal is because of how much effort people are willing to put into getting it. As far as I’m concerned, this is also further evidence for the ability of young children to outwit their parents. (Study published in Science; link is to Science Daily article).
Thunderstorms can produce nuclear reactions. I had no idea, and reading this gave me that delightful sensation in the brain that happens when my understanding or perspective changes. Link is to a news and views piece, with a podcast – link to original paper is here (behind paywall).
One for the molecular biologists/geneticists: a study of the most-studied genes of all time (yes really) reveals some interesting trends in research. If you’re in the field, you can probably guess what number 1 is (I did), but there are some surprises in there. (Oh, and MTHFR isn’t short for what it sounds like it should be short for!)
Image credit: Floris van Breugel/Caltech, via Nature News.
Welcome to today’s Sunday Science, with some weird and wonderful animals, some human quirks, and future life on the oceans..
How did the weevil get its shell? Well, they have bacterial symbionts who live inside them with severely reduced genomes. These bacteria do not much more than churn out the amino acid tyrosine, needed to harden the shells. I love how nature is so weird sometimes. Link is to the full scientific paper, so fairly technical.
A fascinating account of the changes in the onset and duration of puberty, which has changed significantly over the years.
Seasteading, which means living on permanent floating artificial habitats, outside the jurisdiction of any government, seems to be taking a step forward. This long thoughtful piece examines the progress and implications of what was, until now, an idea confined to science fiction and libertarian dreamers.
And finally…did you ever collect tadpoles as a child and try and grow them to frogs? Well, toad tadpoles are less cute than they look: they contain potent heart poisons. The researchers thought this was to ward off competition from frogs, but it seems actually to be do with each other – the more toad tadpoles there are, the more toxic they get.
Credit: This week’s featured image via Nature, by Bert Willaert/NPL.
Here is the this week’s Sunday Science, including truly wearable tech, tsunami-borne sea creatures and duck penises.
Do you have one of those smartwatches which measures your heart rate when you exercise? Does your smartphone automatically keep track of how many steps you take each day. Well, the future both for this and for medical monitoring may lie more in flexible, wearable sensors, or the bodynet, as this fascinating piece in Nature of the latest merging of scifi with science fact explores.
Male ruddy ducks regenerate their penis every year, apparently, one of those glorious facts you never knew you needed in your life. However, they may grow an extra-long (as in, 18cm!) or an extra-short one (only 0.5cm), due to fierce sexual competition.
Salmon have returned to a river in Derbyshire for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.
Continuing the CRISPR revolution, it has been used to genetically engineer human embryos to study early embryo development, revealing an important role for a gene in embryo implantation and miscarriage risk.
This week’s featured image is of marine sea slugs from a Japanese vessel from Iwate Prefecture, washed ashore in Oregon in April 2015 [Image credit Mark Chapman via Science Daily]. Thousands of creatures were washed across the ocean as a consequence of the Japanese tsunami, a study published in Science magazine discovered. Such “rafting” events are natural, of course, but what’s not natural is the extent of this migration, much of which was enabled by animals riding along on our non-degradable plastic waste. Nearly 300 species have appeared on the west coast of the US and Hawaii. This is potentially setting in motion a radical ecological experiment.