Thursday, January 31, 2013

Timbuktu's Science Manuscripts

Retreating Islamist rebels fleeing from advancing Malian troops set fire to the Ahmed Baba Institute and a related warehouse in Timbuktu, a repository of an estimated 30,000 scientific manuscripts dating back to medieval times written by African scholars on subjects of astronomy, medicine, botany, mathematics and biology.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Encoding Data in DNA

Scientists have successfully encoded data using nucleic acids as a storage medium -- including all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, historic video clips and modern texts and photographs -- allowing massively greater capacities than current methods for archival material and storage lifetimes that could last for millennia under optimal conditions.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Smaller Measurements of Proton

New high-precision measurement techniques have consistently produced a result for the radius of a proton (muonic hydrogen) of 0.84 femtometers, a value 4% smaller (0.03 femtometers) than the accepted constant value determined by other techniques and possibly involving unknown physics.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Insects Orient Using Stars

Scientists have demonstrated that dung beetles (superfamily Scarabaeoidea) use the gradient of light from the Milky Way to guide themselves and ensure they continue in a straight line, proving for the first time that insects can use stars for orientation.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dual-Emission Pulsar Identified

Astronomers have identified a pulsar (PSR B0943+10) that on roughly a half-hour timescale flips almost instantly between two extreme emission modes, one of strong x-rays and one of strong radio waves, through a mechanism that cannot be explained by current physics.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bacteria in Storm Clouds

Researchers have found bacteria on hailstones that ordinarily live on plants and in the soil, suggesting these bacteria present a new transient microbial ecosystem in storm clouds where they reproduce and affect cloud chemistry and may influence weather patterns as nucleation points for precipitation.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Elastic, Self-Healing Wires

Researchers have developed a wire composed of a microfluidic channel with a liquid-metal alloy of indium and gallium surrounded by a commercially available self-healing polymer, resulting in a conductive elastic wire suitable for high-stress applications that reconnects at the molecular level even if severed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Spider Weaves Decoy

The previously unknown behavior of a spider weaving a decoy spider-shaped structure many times larger than itself into their web has been documented in the Peruvian rain forest, most likely from an undocumented new species of the genus Cyclosa.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quadruple Helix DNA

Scientists have observed the complex four-stranded ("G-quadruplex") DNA present in human cells for the first time, with implications the structure may be involved in certain cancers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Maximum Height of Trees

Scientists studying the leaves of various tree species have developed a relationship between leaf size and tree height, discovering that at heights above about 100 meters any leaf size ceases to be viable due to the structure of the tree trunk and the internal transfer of nutrients.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Largest Known Structure

Astronomers have discovered a large quasar group (LQG) that forms a structure 4 billion light years across, the largest known structure ever detected and one of such a size that it challenges the Cosmological Principle and modern cosmology for current estimates of the scale of the universe.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Disinfecting Wasp Larvae

A new study of the emerald cockroach wasp (Ampulex compressa) finds that the larvae laid on the host cockroach secrete the chemicals mullein and micromolide, both broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents that sterilize the host before it is consumed by the parasitic larvae.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gas Below Absolute Zero

Physicists have developed an ultracold quantum gas made up of potassium atoms trapped in a magnetic field and manipulated by lasers into a reversal of energy states, creating a gas that measures a few billionths of a Kelvin below absolute zero.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Stage of Planet Birth

Astronomers have spotted gaps or filaments of material in the dust ring surrounding the forming star HD 142527, a feature caused by orbiting planetesimals that helps the star to grow and a byproduct of planetary formation previously theorized but never before detected.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blood of King Louis XVI

Scientists have matched DNA from dried blood on a handkerchief stored in a gourd decorated with scenes of the French Revolution with tissue from the mummified head of the French King Henry IV, proving the blood to be from Louis XVI executed in 1793 and the first historical genome ever retrieved.