Friday, December 10, 2010

Hairy Fly Rediscovered

Thought extinct since 1948, specimens of the bizarre and flightless hairy fly (Mormotomyia hirsuta) have been rediscovered living in its only known habitat in Kenya's remote Ukazi Hills where it lives and breeds in the bat-filled clefts of isolated rock.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rare Red Novae

Astronomers have observed the formation of a rare red nova (V1309 Scorpii) from the combination of a binary star system known as a contact binary, where the two stars orbit each other close enough to touch and eventually merge and explode.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saturn's Strange Propellers

Data from the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn have revealed strange propeller-shaped wakes thousands of kilometers long that exist within the planet's rings, the result of small unseen moons ploughing through the rings and providing new insight into planet formation theories.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Giant Stork Fossils

Fossil remains of a giant marabou stork (Leptoptilos robustus) that once stood 1.8-m tall have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, the latest in a series of extreme-sized animals native to that island including dwarf elephants, giant rats and a species of "hobbit-like" hominids.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Arsenic-Tolerant Bacteria

Scientists have isolated arsenic-tolerant bacteria (GFAJ-1) found in a California lake and have cultured them to thrive in an arsenic-heavy environment, possibly substituting arsenic for phosphorus on a molecular level and changing the baseline chemistry believed necessary for life to function.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Electrified Full Moon

Data from a recent Japanese probe has found that when the Moon is full, it passes through Earth's magnetic "tail" formed by the magnetosphere and the solar wind, acquiring a strong electric field near the surface that could pose a hazard to future missions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life Found Deep in Earth

A research team drilled into the gabbrioc layer, the layer just above Earth's mantle, and found colonies of unique bacteria living at a depth of 1391 meters beneath the surface, evolved to feed on hydrocarbons like methane and benzene.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Antimatter Atom Stored

For the first time, a team at CERN's ALPHA collaboration has successfully trapped and repeatedly stored several atoms of antihydrogen for two-tenths of a second in a octupole magnetic bottle called a minimum magnetic field trap.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kidney Zap for Blood Pressure

A new study has found that a short blast of radiofrequency energy delivered to the kidneys via catheter can destroy tiny nerves in the lining of the arteries of the kidneys, thereby lowering a patient's blood pressure when they do not respond to normal medication.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roman Settlement in London

Excavation for a new hotel in the west London site of Syon Park has unearthed an ancient Roman settlement with more than 11,000 artifacts found thus far, including pottery, coins and jewellery as well as human remains.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Carnivorous Plant

A new species of carnivorous pitcher plant (Nepenthes holdenii) has been discovered in the remote Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, with a unique adaptation of an underground tuber to sprout new pitcher-bearing vines after times of drought or forest fires.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Color-Changing Bandage

Scientists have developed a bandage saturated with a chemically stable pH-sensitive indicator dye in the dressing that changes a distinct purple color when infection is present, as evidenced by pH values between 6.5 and 8.5.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Squid Species

As part of the Seamounts Project, a new species of large deep-sea squid (Chiroteuthid family) featuring long, slender bodies and bioluminescent displayes has been discovered in the underwater mountains of the Indian Ocean, one of 74 different squid species identified in this project.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Black Hole Birth

Astronomers have analyzed images captured by NASA's Chandra x-ray telescope of a 1979 supernova explosion and found something steadily consuming the gas renmants of the star in the decades since, possibly the first direct observations of the birth of a black hole.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pocahontas' Wedding Chapel

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a church at the historic Jamestown settlement site in Virginia that is believed to be the chapel where the Powhatan girl Pocahontas married John Rolfe in the spring of 1614, the first major English church building in North America.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Racetrack" Memory

A new type of high-volume, shock-proof, non-volatile "racetrack" magnetic memory has been developed using billions of nickel-iron nanowires embedded on a chip that could make standard computer memory 100,000 times faster.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oldest Dinosaur Embryos

The oldest known preserved embryos from fossilized eggs disovered in South Africa in 1976 have been identified as Massospondylus, an early prosauropod species that reveals details about early development and evolution at the dawn of the age of dinosaurs 190 million years ago.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Moon Bulge Explained

The lunar far-side highlands, an area of elevated topography located on the far side of the Moon, has been explained using a mathematical model as the result of tidal forces early in its formation acting on a solid outer crust floating on an internal layer of magma.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gamma-Ray Structures

NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has detected large gamma-ray structures bubbling 25,000 light years both above and below the Milky Way's galactic center, with theories as to their origin ranging from remnants of ancient star formation to activity from the central black hole at the core.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spontaneous GMOs

Although genetically modified organisms (GMO) are the subject of fierce moral and political debate, a new study demonstrates that a transfer on the genetic level can occur naturally among plant species, most likely borne by a virus or other parasite some 700,000 years ago.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pompeiians Killed by Heat

A new study and simulation reveals that the Pomepeiian victims of Mount Vesuvius were killed by one of six pyroclastic surges of hot gases and ash that swept over the area, and likely died instantly of heat shock from temperatures in excess of 300°C instead of asphyxiation, as previously believed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Boas by Virgin Birth

A boa constrictor has had two litters of 22 offspring with no father, an exceedingly rare case of parthenogenesis in vertebrate species and with the young snakes having sex-determining WW chromosomal pairs, a genetic combination not found in nature.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Exotic" Metallic Superconductor

A new "dual-identity" crystalline material known as a topological superconductor has been developed that at very low temperatures displays the zero resistance of superconductors on the interior while behaving with conventional metallic conductive properties on the surface.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fourth Neutrino Flavor

Results obtained by Fermilab's Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment (MiniBooNE) suggest the existence of a previously unanticipated fourth flavor of neutrino, a weakly interacting new particle in addition to the three known electron, muon and tau neutrinos.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walls Around Sphinx

New excavations around the Great Sphinx of Giza have revealed ancient mud walls approximately 1 meter high built around the Sphinx to protect it from blowing sand, presumably built by the ancient King Thutmose IV.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Balloon Head" Dolphin

A fossil skull dredged up from the floor of the North Sea by a Dutch fisherman reveals a new species of "balloon head" dolphin (Platalearostrum hoekmani) that lived two to three million years ago, with the function of the bulbous forehead a matter of speculation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Human Liver in Lab

Whole miniature human livers about the size of plums have been grown in a laboratory environment from biological scaffolding of ferret livers stripped of native cells and replaced by human liver cells, a large step forward toward the goal of growing full-sized, personalized replacement livers for transplant patients.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Evidence of Martian Water

By analyzing the very soil it became stuck in 2009, the NASA's Mars Expedition Rover Spirit has found further evidence of water in recent geologic history as stratified layers close to the surface formed from seepage of surface frost or snow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Early Sauropod Found

The first complete fossil skeleton of an early ancestor of the sauropods (Yizhousaurus sunae) has been discovered in China, a critical evolutionary link that helps to show how the iconic four-legged, long-necked sauropods developed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Heaviest Neutron Star

Astronomers have found the heaviest neutron star yet discovered (formally classified as PSR J1614-2230), more than 20% heavier than the previous maximum with a mass twice that of the Sun yet packed into an object the size of a metropolitan city such as London (radius about 10 km).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Snub-Nosed Monkey

A previously unknown species of snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) has been discovered in the forests of northern Myanmar, with a tail longer than its body length and an upturned nose that causes it to sneeze when it rains.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Starquakes" Yield Data

Although designed to search for exoplanets, by analyzing data collected from the Kepler spacecraft astronomers can detect stellar oscillations ("starquakes") that yield new insights about the age, size, composition and evolution of stars.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Amazon Species

A new report issed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) details more than 1200 new species discovered over a decade-long study of the Amazon rainforest, including an new anaconda species, a "goliath" catfish that feeds on monkeys, a pink river dolphin and hundreds of new amphibians, spiders and plant species.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Insects in Indian Amber

More than 700 new species of insects have been found in 150 kg of amber recovered from lignite mines in the Cambay Shale of the Indian state of Gujarat, many new to science and related to species found in distant parts of the globe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peruvian Residential Pyramid

A half-excavated 1400-year-old Moche pyramid in Peru is unusual in that it shows signs of permanent residence for a few dozen elite citizens with evidence of meal preparation, storage of corn beer and copper smelting as well as ritualistic human sacrifice.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rinderpest Virus Eliminated

For only the second time in history, humanity has succeeded in eliminating a disease virus completely -- namely, the rinderpest (German for "cattle plague") virus that once killed cattle by the millions and lead to famine among human populations for thousands of years, with the last known case reported in Kenya in 2001.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bread 30,000 Years Ago

Researchers have found starch grains on grinding stones estimated at 30,000 years old, indicating that Paleolithic Europeans ground starchy plant roots for flour that was made into simple breads 10,000 years earlier than previously known and contrary to the often assumed low-carbohydrate "caveman" diet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Walnut" Moon Mystery

New planetary models have shed light on the origin of the unusual "walnut" ridge formation of Saturn's moon Iapetus, with the moon in a region far enough from the planet to retain much of its initial rotational spin while still forming and producing the characteristic bulge along its equator.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Benford's Law

Researchers have extended the number of natural phenomena that are known to follow the curious mathematical rule known as Benford's law, demonstrating that it applies to such varied events as depth of earthquakes, brightness of gamma rays that reach Earth, rotation rates of pulsars and infectious disease numbers reported to the World Health Organization.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Asteroid Collision

The Hubble Space Telescope and the Rosetta probe currently en route to explore the asteroids have captured images of the recent explosive collision of two asteroids for the first time, with the event estimated to have occurred in early 2009.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Earliest Land Plants

Fossils of the earliest plants (liverworts) to have colonized dry land have been found in Argentina, pushing back this event by 10 million years to have the ancestor of all land plants growing on dry ground as early as 472 million years ago.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Carnivorous Mammal

A new species of cat-sized, carnivorous mammal named Durell's vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) similar to a mongoose has been identified living in Madagascar, one of the most threatened carnivore species in the world and the first new species to be discovered in 24 years.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Strong-Handed Dinosaur

The discovery of a new fossil (Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis) in Arizona reveals a small sauropod with a long neck and an unusual clawed hand built for strength and leverage, leading paleontologists to believe they were opportunistic scavengers instead of strict herbivores.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Language Found

A National Geographic team working to record threatened indigenous languages has discovered one entirely new to linguists in northeast India named Koro, belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family of languages, and spoken by only between 800 and 1200 people.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Earlier Dinosaur Origins

New research on small fossilized footprints found in Poland of a new proto-dinosaur dubbed Prorotodactylus reveal that the first dinosaurs appeared about two million years after the end-Permian extinction event, much earlier than previous estimates of 15-20 million years after this mass extinction.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Horror Fly Back from Dead

Once thought to be globally extinct and not sighted for almost 160 years, the bone skipper fly (Thyreophora cynophila) has been spotted in the forests of Central and Western Europe, where it lives and breeds in the bone tissue of highly decayed carrion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unpredictability of Heliosphere

Data from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) craft reveal the unpredictable boundary of the heliosphere where the solar wind meets the interstellar medium, shrinking significantly within six months and reacting apart from the Sun's eleven-year cycle of activity.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Neutral Atom Isolated

Researchers have successfully slowed a group of charge-neutral rubidium-85 atoms using laser cooling techniques and then selected out and held a single atom with a pair of optical tweezers to obtain an image, a breakthrough in handling atoms that could lead to smaller quantum-based computing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Artificial Leaf" Solar Devices

Researchers have developed water-gel-based solar devices ("artificial leaves") that mimick natural processes using plant chlorophyll, carbon nanotubes or graphite to generate electricity that is less expensive and more environmentally friendly than current silicon-based solar cell technologies.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Comet-Like Mercury

The two satellites of NASA's STEREO mission have visually captured a comet-like tail of gases escaping into the solar wind behind the planet Mercury opposite the Sun that is many hundreds of times the size of the planet itself.