Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grasslands Most Diverse

A new study has overturned conventional wisdom and found that ordinary grasslands contain the greatest number of plant species per 50 square meter area, more than tropical rain forests, with the grasslands of Eastern Europe and Argentina proving to be the most diverse in the world.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Trees Electrify Atmosphere

New research has shown that trees and other plants function as radon pumps, bringing the gas from the surface and releasing it into the air via transpiration and thus contributing to the electrical ionization of Earth's atmosphere.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mercury Once "Dynamic World"

Data from NASA's Messenger spacecraft show that impact craters on the surface of Mercury have signs of distortion by a geological process after impact, revealing along with other data that the planet has been unusually dynamic for a very long time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Lost" Segment of Great Wall

With the help of Google Earth, researchers have found a "lost" section of the Great Wall of China in the Ömnögovi Province of southern Mongolia, a 100-kilometer section dating to around A.D. 1100 and belonging collectively to what is known regionally as the Wall of Genghis Khan.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Earth's Multiple Atmospheres

An analysis of prehistoric marine sediments has shown that Earth's early atmosphere repeatedly flipped between two states before oxygenation in response to microbial activity, alternating between a hydrocarbon-free state and a hydrocarbon-rich state with this cycle ending after oxygenation.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Piezoelectric Graphene Created

By doping a single layer of a graphene lattice with lithium, researchers have engineered full piezoelectric effects comparable to bulkier three-dimensional materials, opening up an unparalleled level of control for electrical, optical and mechanical nanoscale structures.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Red Deer Cave People

A distinctive skull and other evidence found in southwest China suggests a new species of hominids called the Red Deer Cave people may have arisen in parallel to Neanderthals in Africa and Europe some 200,000 years ago, although the relationship between the two species is still unclear.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Modern Brains from Simple Worms

New research on the simple acorn worm (Saccoglossus kowalevskii) reveals it possesses three clusters of cells called signalling centers identical to those in vertebrates that are used to develop complex brain structures, suggesting the last common ancestor of vertebrates and invertebrates may have had a complex brain that it subsequently lost.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ethiopia's Magnetic Stripes

Huge magnetic stripes mapped out in the Tendaho Graben of the Afar Depression of Ethiopia reveal a point where three of Earth's tectonic plates meet and are stretching apart to eventually form a new ocean, the first such stripes documented on land instead of occurring on the sea floor.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Earliest Iridescent Dinosaurs

Four-winged feathered dinosaurs called microraptors that lived 125 million years ago have been found to possess the earliest evidence of iridescence in their feathers, with fossil melanosomes comparable to modern birds with an iridescent sheen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taste Loss in Obligate Carnivores

Researchers have established a correlation between obligate carnivores (animals subsisting only on meat) and the inability to taste sweet compounds, with the gene that controls the sweet taste receptor lost through the species' evolution and demonstrating the importance of an animal's dietary needs in shaping their sensory systems.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Neutrino Transformation

Physicists have measured and recorded the third previously unseen neutrino mixing angle, dubbed θ13 or "theta one three," by which an electron neutrino can oscillate or transform into one of the other two neutrino flavors, muon or tau.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oldest Animal with Skeleton

Paleontologists have discovered the oldest organism known (Coronacollina acula) with a skeleton, an animal living between 560 million and 550 million years ago and providing the first evidence of an organism with hard parts existing before the Cambrian Period.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Maxwell's Demon Disproven

An exception to a thermodynamics problem dubbed "Maxwell's demon" after James Clerk Maxwell has been disproven by experiment due to the fact that the eventual erasure ("forgetting") of stored information releases a small amount of heat and thus increases entropy, affirming the second law of thermodynamics.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Titanic Sunk by "Supermoon"

A new theory has surfaced regarding the sinking of the RMS Titanic that proposes an extremely rare alignment of the Sun, Earth and full moon on January 4, 1912, may have caused unusually strong tides and allowed much larger than average icebergs into the commercial shipping lanes in the following months.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Multiple Types of Dark Matter

Hubble Space Telescope observations of the galactic cluster Abell 520, a composite region of several galaxies in collision about 2.4 billion light years distant, reveal a structure that does not correspond to current "dark matter" theory and may indicate the existence of several different species of dark matter.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hot Flow Anomalies on Venus

Astronomers have found evidence of hot flow anomalies (HFA) occurring around Venus, a type of space weather discontinuity common on Earth that deflects the solar wind as it moves past a planet's bow shock, a surprising phenomena given Venus' lack of a magnetic field.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Women Produce New Eggs

Researchers have recently discovered a type of stem cell in women's ovaries that can produce new eggs when grown in the lab, challenging the long-held belief that women are born with a finite number of eggs and instead may produce at least some new eggs through their reproductive years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oldest Chordate Determined

Analysis of 114 fossils of the eel-like creature Pikaia gracilens discovered in Canada since 1911 show that it is the oldest known chordate, a "missing link" common ancestor of all creatures with a backbone from fish to humans that lived about 505 million years ago.

Monday, March 12, 2012

First Americans from Europe

A new theory proposes the first Native American peoples came from migration of the Solutrean people from northern Spain and France based on similar tools found in the eastern United States dated thousands of years earlier than the Clovis civilization, allegedly crossing the Arctic ice instead of a Siberian land bridge.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oxygen in Dione's Atmosphere

Molecular oxygen ions have been detected in the upper atmosphere of Saturn's moon Dione by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft, providing evidence that large quantities of oxygen can be found on icy bodies that are exposed to sunlight.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Twisted" Waves Boost Capacity

A new technique has been demonstrated to exploit the orbital angular momentum of radio waves with a "twist," allowing many data streams to occupy each frequency range (bandwidth) in an electromagnetic spectrum that has become increasingly crowded with the growth of technology.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Molecular Charge Distribution

Using a technique known as Kelvin probe microscopy, scientists have imaged for the first time the electronic charge distribution surrounding a single molecule, which matched neatly with the theoretical values.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rare Whale Caught on Film

Researchers tracking blue whales off the coast of Australia caught rare Shepherd's beaked whales on film, the first time live animals of this deep-water, reclusive species known only through stranded dead specimens have been documented.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Horses Shrank as Planet Warmed

New research shows that an ancestor to the modern horse (Sifrhippus sandrae) living 56 million years ago shrank in size with the warming of Earth's climate over the 175,000-year Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, the first data to confirm Bergmann's rule applies to changes over time as well as location.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Prehistoric Elephant Tracks

An aerial study of 7-million-year-old tracks from prehistoric elephants (Stegotretabelodon) preserved in the desert of the United Arab Emirates reveals a herd of elephants walking together, one of the longest trackways in the world.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ultradense Planet Discovered

A newly discovered planet designated CoRoT-20b some 4000 light years distant is a gas giant smaller than Jupiter but with four times Jupiter's mass, making it among the densest planets known and challenging current theories of planet formation.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Limbless Amphibians

Six potentially new species of burrowing, limbless amphibians (caecillians) have been discovered in northeastern India, representing a family of amphibians entirely new to science.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Y Chromosome Not Going Extinct

Researchers studying rhesus macaques have found the male Y chromosome still contains 20 out of 800 genes that match the X chromosome, with 19 of these shared with humans, indicating the Y chromosome has held steady for at least 25 million years and is not bound for extinction, as predicted by some evolutionary theories.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mars Experiences "Marsquakes"

Researchers using High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery of the surface of Mars have examined a fault system known as Cerberus Fossae and determined that Mars experiences "marsquakes," its equivalent of earthquakes, suggesting possible volcanism still at work below the surface.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Solid Buckyballs in Space

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected the carbon structure buckministerfullerene ("buckyballs") in solid form in space for the first time surrounding a pair of stars about 6500 light years away.