Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cooking Made Us Human

A new study links the surge in human brain size 1.8 million years ago to the advent of cooking our food, separating Homo erectus from the other primates' inefficient raw diet by unlocking 100% of the digestible nutrition in cooked foods for calorie-expensive brain growth.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Seals as Filter Feeders

Although normally preying on penguins and smaller seals, researchers have found the leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) can feed on tiny krill like a whale by filtering them through specialized teeth, allowing this species to feed from both the top and the bottom of the Antarctic food web.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Earth's Magnetic Poles Flipped

Analyzing sediment from the floor of the Black Sea, scientists have determined the Earth's magnetic poles reversed and then reversed again relatively quickly about 41,000 years ago, with the process that normally takes millennia completing its cycle in only about 200 years and during which the magnetic field strength was only one-twentieth what it is today.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Acoustic Analysis of Bridges

Using a technique known as impact-echo testing, engineers have developed a new method to analyze and evaluate the structural stability of a bridge deck based on the acoustic footprint generated by droplets of water striking the surface.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Calibration for Carbon Dating

Having two distinct sediment layers that form annually, scientists have used core samples from Lake Suigetsu west of Tokyo to painstakingly account for an atmospheric carbon-14 record stretching back 52,000 years, extending calibration references for a new, more accurate standard for radiocarbon dating.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Closest Earth-Sized Planet

Astronomers have confirmed the discovery of a planet only 1.1 times Earth's mass in orbit around the nearby star Alpha Centauri B just 4.4. light years away, unlikely to be habitable due to its orbit but likely the closest possible planet outside our own solar system.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Type of Cosmic Ray

Astronomers have discovered the first new source of cosmic rays 100 years after their first discovery, the new low-energy type originating not from the explosion of supernovae but from the Arches cluster with the particles accelerated by the shock wave of the young stars moving at around 700,000 km/h.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mouse Eggs From Stem Cells

Researchers have produced lab-made viable egg cells from mouse stem cells, capable of being fertilized and growing individuals to birth, maturity and being successfully reproductive themselves.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wasps Have Mechanical Brains

With neurons more than an order of magnitude smaller and thinner than human neurons, the operation of the brains of the miniature greenhouse whitefly parasite (Encarsia formosa) may rely more upon slight mechanical  movements to trigger the chemical release of a signal rather than an electrical action potential.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Spider Attack Caught in Amber

A newly discovered fossilized piece of amber from the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar dated between 97-110 million years old displays a spider attack on a parasitic wasp caught in its web, the first and only evidence of such an interaction between these types of species.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Biodegradable Electronics

Researchers have developed flexible electronic components composed of conductive magnesium and biocompatible silk that can dissolve in water and inside the human body, enabling the design of medical implants that do not require surgical removal.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ancient Carbon Resurfacing

A new study reveals a significant amount of carbon stored in lakes and rivers -- often thousands of years old -- is still being released into the atmosphere, challenging current models of long-term carbon storage in aquatic systems and its dynamics in modern climatology.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Advanced Dinosaur Teeth

Paleontologists and engineers studying the fossilized teeth of duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurids) have found them to be more complex than modern grazers such as cows and horses with an amazing capacity to chew tough and abrasive plant matter.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pain-Killers from Snake Venom

Scientists have isolated pain-killing compounds called mambalgins from the venom of Africa's black mamba snake that are as strong as some opiates used today but without the common dangerous side-effects.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ancient Streambed on Mars

NASA's Curiosity Rover has discovered rounded pebbles and gravel on  Mars, evidence of an ancient stream with free-flowing water that once existed on the surface of the planet.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cold Layer Around Venus

The European Space Agency's Venus Express has discovered an unexpected cold layer in Venus' atmosphere 77 miles above the planet's surface with temperatures reaching −283°F, much colder than anything in Earth's atmosphere and able to form carbon dioxide ice.