Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread
|From Yahoo News Science|
1 Fears grow over oil spill off US coast
by Allen Johnson, AFP
Tue Apr 27, 10:47 pm ET
|NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – The Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster will develop into one of the worst spills in US history if the well is not sealed, the coast guard officer leading the response warned.
BP, which leases the Deepwater Horizon platform, has been operating four robotic submarines some 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) down on the seabed to try to cap two leaks in the riser pipe that connected the rig to the wellhead.
But the best efforts of the British energy giant have yielded no progress so far, and engineers are frantically constructing a giant dome that could be placed over the leaks as a back-up plan to try and stop the oil spreading.
2 Subs sent to seal leaks as US oil slick spreads
by Allen Johnson, AFP
Mon Apr 26, 12:00 pm ET
|NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Robotic submarines are on Monday racing to stop oil from a sunken rig streaming into the Gulf of Mexico, as BP warned that sealing the seabed leaks could take three months if the operation fails.
The British energy giant — which leases the stricken Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible platform — is desperately trying to prevent a massive slick from growing and spreading to Louisiana’s ecologically fragile coast.
Satellite images on Sunday showed the slick had spread by 50 percent in a day to cover an area of 600 square miles (1,550 square kilometers), although officials said almost all the oil was just a thin veneer on the sea’s surface.
3 Philippines’ dirty jeepneys starting to turn green
by Karl Malakunas, AFP
54 mins ago
|MANILA (AFP) – With exhausts that belch out dark clouds of fumes, drivers who arrogantly break road rules and sardine-can-like interiors, “jeepney” mini-buses are an unlikely source of pride in the Philippines.
The iconic vehicles with their flamboyant paint designs are much loved as a symbol of national ingenuity because Filipinos created them from surplus US military jeeps after American forces left at the end of World War II.
However, six decades later, they are also becoming known as environmental vandals because their huge diesel-powered motors are one of the major contributors to air pollution and ensuing health problems in Philippine cities.
4 Vesuvius is Italy’s ‘biggest public safety problem’
Tue Apr 27, 3:01 pm ET
|ROME (AFP) – If and when Mount Vesuvius wakes up from its long slumber, it will threaten more than a million people, Italy’s public safety chief said Tuesday.
“Vesuvius is the biggest public safety problem there is in Italy, because entire towns lie in the area of the volcano and would be invaded by an eruption,” Guido Bertolaso said.
“For the time being the volcano is quiet, but we know very well that the day Vesuvius wakes up the situation will be absolutely dramatic,” he told a news conference.
5 Japan ‘space yacht’ propelled by solar particles
by Miwa Suzuki, AFP
Tue Apr 27, 11:25 am ET
|TOKYO (AFP) – Japan is to launch a “space yacht” propelled by solar particles that bounce off its kite-shaped sails, the country’s space agency said Tuesday.
A rocket carrying the Ikaros — an acronym for Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun — will blast off from the Tanegashima space centre in southern Japan on May 18.
“Ikaros is a ‘space yacht’ that gets propulsion from the pressure of sunlight particles bouncing off its sail,” Yuichi Tsuda, space systems expert at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), told journalists.
6 S.Korea completes world’s longest seawall
by Park Chan-Kyong, AFP
Tue Apr 27, 11:58 am ET
|SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea formally marked completion of the world’s longest seawall on Tuesday, the first step in a massive project aimed at reclaiming the ocean for industry, tourism and agriculture by 2020.
The 33.9 kilometre (21 mile) Saemangeum seawall encloses 401 square kilometres (160 square miles) of seawater or tidal mudflats, about two thirds the size of Seoul.
“Saemangeum is the largest-ever engineering project in this country and will change the country’s landscape,” said President Lee Myung-Bak at the televised inauguration.
7 Indonesia to take lead on geothermal energy: president
Mon Apr 26, 12:33 pm ET
|NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AFP) – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged Monday to make Indonesia the world’s biggest user of clean, renewable geothermal energy, and urged private investors to back him.
The archipelago of 234 million people and more than 200 volcanoes is estimated to possess around 40 percent of the world’s geothermal energy potential, or around 28,000 megawatts (MW).
It already has plans to double its geothermal energy output but analysts say the high costs associated with converting underground heat into electricity is an obstacle to investment.
8 Indonesia aims to tap volcano power
by Alvin Darlanika, AFP
Fri Apr 23, 10:11 pm ET
|KAMOJANG, Indonesia (AFP) – Indonesia has launched an ambitious plan to tap the vast power of its volcanoes and become a world leader in geothermal energy, while trimming greenhouse gas emissions.
The sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands stretching from the Indian to the Pacific Oceans contains hundreds of volcanoes, estimated to hold around 40 percent of the world’s geothermal energy potential.
But so far only a tiny fraction of that potential has been unlocked, so the government is seeking help from private investors, the World Bank and partners like Japan and the United States to exploit the power hidden deep underground.
9 ‘Green tea party’ closes out US Earth Day celebrations
by Karin Zeitvogel, AFP
Sun Apr 25, 10:38 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Washington played host to another ‘tea party’ rally, but this time the tea was green and the message of the thousands who gathered on the National Mall was about the environment, not anti-government.
“It’s nice to be at a tea party,” British pop icon Sting said Sunday, referring to the vocal conservative and predominantly white activist movement that is vehemently opposed to President Barack Obama’s administration and health care reforms in particular.
“A green tea party, where people know what’s going down, for a change,” Sting added as he took the stage to close out nine hours of music and pleas to save the planet, organized in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
10 Revolutionary Hubble space telescope turns 20
by Jean-Louis Santini, AFP
Sun Apr 25, 12:55 am ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Astronomers around the world this weekend mark the 20th anniversary of the launching of the iconic Hubble, NASA’s first orbiting space telescope that has revolutionized human understanding of the universe.
More than any other instrument, the Hubble has stimulated a modern-day infatuation with deep space, beaming to Earth the most spectacular images ever taken of faraway galaxies and the births and deaths of stars — and along the way helping scientists make some of the most important discoveries of our time.
Hubble was launched aboard space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990 and deployed into orbit the following day.
11 Experts try to break dengue scourge with gene study
By Tan Ee Lyn, Reuters
Mon Apr 26, 11:53 pm ET
|HONG KONG (Reuters) – Former policewoman Jaycee Choy had to be pushed around in a wheelchair and couldn’t eat for a week when she fell ill with dengue fever in 2005, the year when Singapore was hit by its worst dengue epidemic.
“I should’ve been admitted to hospital but they were full with dengue patients and had no bed for me. I was so weak I couldn’t stand,” said Choy, now 38 and a private investigator.
“I’m hardly ever sick but I thought then I was going to die.”
12 Scientists uncover deep ocean current near Antarctica
By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia, Reuters
Sun Apr 25, 2:05 pm ET
|SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Scientists have discovered a fast-moving deep ocean current with the volume of 40 Amazon Rivers near Antarctica that will help researchers monitor the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans.
A team of Australian and Japanese scientists, in a study published in Sunday’s issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, found that the current is a key part of a global ocean circulation pattern that helps control the planet’s climate.
Scientists had previously detected evidence of the current but had no data on it.
13 Airlines, scientists split over impact of ash
By Tim Hepher, Reuters
Mon Apr 19, 12:55 pm ET
|PARIS (Reuters) – Experts disagree over how to measure the dispersal of volcanic ash and who should decide when it is safe to fly, as millions of travelers remain grounded and revenue losses top $1 billion due to the Icelandic ash crisis.
“I would call it a European mess because we did not focus on figures and facts,” Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Monday.
“Europe was using a theoretical mathematical approach and this is not what you need. We needed some test flights to go into the atmosphere and assess the level of ashes and take decisions,” he told Reuters in an interview.
14 Microbes galore in seas; "spaghetti" mats Pacific
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Reuters
Sun Apr 18, 1:09 pm ET
|OSLO (Reuters) – The ocean depths are home to myriad species of microbes, mostly hard to see but including spaghetti-like bacteria that form whitish mats the size of Greece on the floor of the Pacific, scientists said on Sunday.
The survey, part of a 10-year Census of Marine Life, turned up hosts of unknown microbes, tiny zooplankton, crustaceans, worms, burrowers and larvae, some of them looking like extras in a science fiction movie and underpinning all life in the seas.
“In no other realm of ocean life has the magnitude of Census discovery been as extensive as in the world of microbes,” said Mitch Sogin of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, head of the marine microbe census.
15 Commission proposes limited commercial whale hunts
By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 23, 8:27 pm ET
|TOKYO – Japan cautiously welcomed an International Whaling Commission proposal that would effectively allow commercial whaling for the first time in 25 years – though under strict quotas that the commission argues will reduce the global catch.
Despite a 1986 moratorium on whaling, Japan, Norway and Iceland catch whales for various IWC-sanctioned purposes, including scientific research – which opponents such as Australia and conservation activists say are a cover for commercial whaling.
The proposal, to be debated at the IWC’s meeting in June in Morocco, seeks a compromise by allowing whaling nations to hunt without specifying commercial or otherwise – but in lower numbers than they are now. Small indigenous groups could continue to hunt in limited numbers.
16 Endangered sturgeon fish flourishing in Wisconsin
By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 23, 3:22 am ET
|SHAWANO, Wis. – It’s been a tough fight for the whisker-snouted sturgeon.
The fish survived whatever killed the dinosaurs and have struggled against habitat destruction and overfishing. Now many of its 25 species are endangered, but a small pocket in upper Wisconsin boasts of having one of the world’s largest concentrations of the fish.
The success is because of the state’s strict spearing limits, poaching laws, restocking efforts and the popular – and well-protected – spring spawning, which mostly finished last week.
17 EU moves to help aviation heal $3.3 billion losses
By SLOBODAN LEKIC, AP Aviation Writer
Tue Apr 27, 10:47 am ET
|BRUSSELS – Europe should help its aviation industry recover from up to euro2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) in losses from the volcanic ash crisis by reforming its air traffic control system, offering loans and suspending some rules like bans on nighttime flights, the European Union said Tuesday.
The continent’s air traffic control agency also assembled experts to determine whether national air authorities reacted appropriately to the ash threat, which airlines insist did not warrant a lengthy closure of large chunks of airspace. The experts will carry out a comprehensive review of the actual threat to aviation posed by the ash cloud and how effective closing an airspace really is.
The closure of a large chunk of European airspace due to the April 14 volcanic eruption in southern Iceland caused the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights and left 10 million passengers stranded.
18 Ash cloud’s silver lining: bluer skies
By JOJI SAKURAI and KARL RITTER, Associated Press Writers
Wed Apr 21, 7:42 pm ET
|LONDON – As volcanic ash cast a shadow over millions of lives, Londoners and other city dwellers across Europe were treated to a rare spectacle of nature: Pristine, blue skies brighter than any in recent memory.
The remarkable sight happened in part because mass flight groundings prevented busy airspace from being crisscrossed with plumes of jet exhaust that create a semi-permanent haze – and other effects beyond the white contrails themselves.
Just as city lights make it necessary for us to go to the desert to appreciate the true glitter of stars, so has modern aviation dulled us to what the noontime sky can really look like – until the erupting volcano in Iceland offered a reminder.
19 Earth Day: No more burning rivers, but new threats
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Thu Apr 22, 2:08 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – Pollution before the first Earth Day was not only visible, it was in your face: Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire. An oil spill fouled 30 miles of Southern California beaches. And thick smog choked many cities’ skies.
On Thursday, 40 years after that first Earth Day in 1970, smog levels nationwide have dropped by about a quarter, and lead levels in the air are down more than 90 percent. Formerly fetid lakes and burning rivers are now open to swimmers.
20 Mexico City offers bikes in its clean air campaign
By MARTHA MENDOZA, Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 22, 8:40 am ET
|MEXICO CITY – Pedaling placidly, black-suited businessmen and women in dresses and high heels wheel shiny red bikes between growling green buses, serenaded by shrill police whistles and coughing diesel trucks, the morning sunlight filtering through yellow smog.
Happy Earth Day, Mexico City.
With its scofflaw drivers, gridlocked traffic and cobblestoned downtown, Mexico City isn’t the most bicycle-friendly place. But residents are being asked to take the risk for Madre Tierra as part of a larger campaign that leaders hope will clean up this 700-year-old metropolis.
21 Italy says Ischia volcano, near Naples, could blow
By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 27, 5:25 pm ET
|ROME – The volcano of Ischia, a resort island famed for its thermal waters off the coast of Naples, could potentially erupt, although no eruption is imminent, Italian disaster experts said Tuesday.
Guido Bertolaso, who heads Italy’s civil protection agency, said that, while Vesuvius is more commonly considered the nation’s most worrisome volcano, it is Ischia, which last erupted some 700 years ago, that is experiencing a buildup of magma.
“If I had to say which is the volcano with the most loaded gun barrel, I’d say it’s not Vesuvius but the island of Ischia,” Bertolaso told a news conference in Rome.
22 To fly through ash or not? That’s no easy question
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
Tue Apr 20, 5:15 pm ET
|Six days after volcanic ash shut down the skies over much of Europe, planes are back in the air, but science still can’t answer the question:
Is it safe to fly again?
Mother Nature has given Europe a lesson in risk, aviation technology, scientific uncertainty and economics. And how these fields intersect is messy.
23 Threat of new, larger Icelandic eruption looms
By CARLO PIOVANO, Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 20, 1:44 pm ET
|REYKJAVIK, Iceland – For all the worldwide chaos that Iceland’s volcano has already created, it may just be the opening act.
Scientists fear tremors at the Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano could trigger an even more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano – creating a worst-case scenario for the airline industry and travelers around the globe.
A Katla eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than its smaller neighbor, which has already brought European air travel to a standstill for five days and promises severe travel delays for days more.
24 Space shuttle Discovery, crew of 7 back on Earth
By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
Tue Apr 20, 1:14 pm ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Shuttle Discovery and its astronauts returned safely to Earth on Tuesday after making a rare flyover of America’s heartland to wrap up their 15-day, 6 million-mile journey to the International Space Station.
The touchdown was delayed by rain and fog that dissipated as the sun rose, allowing Mission Control to take advantage of the morning’s second landing opportunity.
Shuttle commander Alan Poindexter held a small U.S. flag as he stood in front of Discovery, two hours later, and described the “beautiful entry.”
25 Counting sea life, sometimes little things are big
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
Mon Apr 19, 5:01 am ET
|WASHINGTON – If the Census Bureau thinks it has its hands full counting Americans, imagine what scientists are up against in trying to tally every living thing in the ocean, including microbes so small they seem invisible.
And just try to get them to mail back a form.
The worldwide Census of Marine Life has four field projects focusing on hard-to-see sea life such as tiny microbes, zooplankton, larvae and burrowers in the sea bed.
26 Once-smoggy Mexico City makes a bet on bicycles
By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers
Thu Apr 22, 1:33 pm ET
|MEXICO CITY – Once the smoggiest city on the planet, Mexico City has cleaned itself up and is coaxing residents to commute on bicycles.
Taking cues from European cities in the vanguard of the green movement, such as Copenhagen , Paris and Barcelona, Mexico City has set up an urban bike-sharing system, moving faster and with greater ambition than most U.S. metropolises have.
The city has docked 1,114 red aluminum bicycles at 85 stations in four districts of the urban core. Residents who pay an annual fee equivalent to about $24.50 can ride the bikes for half-hour periods as many times as they wish. Plans are for sixfold growth in the shared bicycle fleet by 2012.
27 Report: Ocean acidification rising at unprecedented rate
By Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
Thu Apr 22, 6:39 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – With the oceans absorbing more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide an hour, a National Research Council study released Thursday found that the level of acid in the oceans is increasing at an unprecedented rate and threatening to change marine ecosystems.
The council said the oceans were 30 percent more acidic than they were before the Industrial Revolution started roughly 200 years ago, and the oceans absorb one-third of today’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Unless emissions are reined in, ocean acidity could increase by 200 percent by the end of the century and even more in the next century, said James Barry , a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California and one of the study’s authors.
28 New plan would allow whale hunts, with limits
By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers
Fri Apr 23, 2:19 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – A ban on commercial whale hunting since 1986 hasn’t stopped Japan , Iceland and Norway from killing 35,000 whales, according to U.S. government counts. Now the International Whaling Commission has proposed a new approach – legalize whaling for those three nations for the next 10 years, but impose limits and watch the whalers more carefully.
The plan doesn’t propose to phase out commercial whaling, even though whales in many areas have not rebounded in numbers and face other threats. Environmental groups say it’s far too weak and could open the way to more commercial whaling fleets launching from Russia and other countries.
The whaling moratorium brought a sharp drop in the number of whales hunted and killed when it went into effect. In recent years, however, the three whaling nations have been killing whales in increasing numbers. Last year, the three countries that hunt for whales despite the ban – Japan , Iceland and Norway – killed about 1,700 whales, including minke, fin, sei, gray and Bryde’s whales.
29 Obama energy official has ties to firms that stand to benefit
By Steven Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers
Mon Apr 26, 8:30 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – One of the Obama administration’s top officials leading a campaign for energy conservation has a major financial interest in two companies poised to benefit from the government’s spending.
Cathy Zoi, the assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, owns between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of stock in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss-based manufacturer of special electric meters used in creating an efficient “smart” grid of electricity use.
Her husband, Robin Roy , owns options on at least 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, a leading manufacturer of energy efficient windows that has been singled out for praise by both President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden . As an officer of the company, Roy receives options on another 2,500 shares every month and will continue to do so until October 2012 .
30 Space Shuttle Atlantis Moves to Launch Pad for Final Planned Flight
Robert Z. Pearlman, SPACE.com
Thu Apr 22, 5:45 pm ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Atlantis held the spotlight late on Wednesday night into early Thursday morning as it rolled out of Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in Florida, on its way to the launch pad for what is planned to be its last flight.
The black-and-white winged-orbiter, mounted to an orange external fuel tank and twin white solid rocket boosters, left the voluminous building – the largest one-story building in the world – just before midnight atop a mobile launcher platform and crawler transporter tracked vehicle.
Atlantis’ trip to the launch pad came just a day after the successful landing of its sister ship Discovery on Tuesday to wrap up a 15-day flight to the International Space Station.
31 Craters on Titan Offer Glimpse Into Saturn Moon’s Past
Anuradha K. Herath, Astrobiology Magazine, SPACE.com
Fri Apr 23, 9:15 am ET
|A new study in the journal Icarus provides the latest round-up of the number of impact craters found on Saturn’s moon Titan.
Between 2004 and December 2007, Cassini had surveyed 22 percent of Titan’s surface. Scientists analyzed images taken by the spacecraft’s high-resolution Radar Mapper instrument, and found 49 impact craters.
“Impact craters are created on every planet because of asteroids, comets and other debris that collide with their surfaces,” said Charles Wood, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Az, and lead author of the study. “Analyzing impact craters is a standard technique to tell you the history of the world.”
32 Bigger, Better Space Telescopes Following In Hubble’s Footsteps
Jeremy Hsu, SPACE.com Contributor
Fri Apr 23, 4:15 pm ET
|Hubble Space Telescope huggers are celebrating the iconic observatory’s 20th birthday, even as scientists anticipate the next generation of bigger and more powerful successors to the famed orbital instrument.
The Hubble Space Telescope launched on April 24, 1990 with a flawed mirror, but survived for two decades in large part because of five repair missions by space shuttle astronauts. Its cosmic gaze has led to breakthrough discoveries about the universe and embedded stunning views of the cosmos in the hearts and minds of the public.
“Hubble has done all those things and become an icon of science because it can produce glorious images,” said Rick Fienberg, an astronomer and press officer of the American Astronomical Society.
33 How the Hubble Telescope Survived Eye Surgery to Win Our Hearts
Tariq Malik, SPACE.com Managing Editor
Sat Apr 24, 9:15 am ET
|The Hubble Space Telescope has survived 20 years in space – including unprecedented surgical repairs to its mechanical eyes, heart and brain – to become one of the most beloved astronomical icons in history.
But it wasn’t always the crown jewel of space-based astronomy. In fact, just after it reached orbit on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was on the verge of becoming a national embarrassment. It had a flawed mirror and took fuzzy pictures that were a far cry from the crisp views deep into the universe that astronomers expected.
Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for science, was there at the beginning. It was he who – as Hubble’s program scientist at the time – broke the news the press and the world that Hubble’s main mirror had a major defect – a spherical aberration caused by a manufacturing error. It would take three years before NASA was ready to mount a repair mission in 1993, but Weiler was also there on Dec. 18 of that year when the first new images from Hubble reached Earth.
34 Mars Rovers Set to Break Red Planet Record
Andrea Thompson, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Mon Apr 26, 12:15 pm ET
|A historic milestone could be made on Mars this week.
On Thursday, NASA’s beleaguered Spirit rover could become the longest-running mission on the surface of Mars, surpassing the Viking 1 lander’s record of six years and 116 days of operation on the Martian surface – if it’s still alive, that is.
Spirit fell silent on Mars on March 31, when it skipped a planned communications session with Earth. It may be hibernating through the harsh Martian winter. But even if Spirit doesn’t survive, its robotic twin Opportunity is poised to break the Mars mission record in early May.
35 NASA Delays Final Space Shuttle Mission to November
Tariq Malik, SPACE.com Managing Editor
Mon Apr 26, 6:00 pm ET
|NASA has delayed the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour from July to November at the earliest to allow time to modify its cargo – a $1.5 billion science experiment – for a longer stay on the International Space Station.
Endeavour was initially targeted for a July 29 launch with a crew of six astronauts in order to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the space station.
The spectrometer will be installed on the exterior of the space station to study high-energy cosmic rays in the hunt for elusive antimatter and dark matter.
36 Some Craters on the Moon May Be Electrified
Tue Apr 27, 11:15 am ET
|Exploring the craters at the moon’s north and south poles may be even more challenging than previously thought for future astronauts. New NASA calculations now show that solar wind streaming over the rough lunar surface may electrically charge polar craters on the moon.
The moon’s polar craters are of particular interest to researchers because resources, including water ice, exist at these lunar structures. The moon’s orientation to the sun keeps the bottoms of polar craters in permanent shadow, allowing temperatures there to plunge below minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 240 degrees Celsius), cold enough to store volatile material like water for billions of years.
“However, our research suggests that, in addition to the wicked cold, explorers and robots at the bottoms of polar lunar craters may have to contend with a complex electrical environment as well, which can affect surface chemistry, static discharge, and dust cling,” said William Farrell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the lead author of the study.
37 Our Universe Was Born in a Black Hole, Theory Says
Charles Q. Choi, SPACE.com Contributor
Tue Apr 27, 1:00 pm ET
|Our universe might have originated from a black hole that lies within another universe.
The idea centers on how matter and energy falling into a black hole could in theory come out a “white hole” in another universe. In such a situation, both the black hole and the white hole are mouths of an Einstein-Rosen bridge, popularly known as a wormhole.
With that in mind, theoretical physicist Nikodem Poplawski at Indiana University conjectured that when a black hole forms upon the collapse of a dying star, a universe is born at the same time from the white hole on the other side of the wormhole.
38 World’s Longest Bug And ‘Ninja’ Slug Discovered in Borneo
Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
Thu Apr 22, 6:33 am ET
|An eccentric bunch of species have recently come out of hiding in the rainforests of Borneo, including the world’s longest known stick insect – think two skinny pencils end-to-end, a slug that shoots “love darts,” and a color-changing frog, scientists announce today.
The new WWF report details the 123 newly identified species that have been discovered since February 2007 when the three countries that make up Borneo agreed to conserve 85,000 square miles (220,000 square kilometers) of tropical rainforest, designated as the Heart of Borneo (HoB).
That’s a rate of discovery of three species per month. Previously, scientists have estimated that there are about 2 million known species of life on Earth, and anywhere from 5 million to 100 million species that remain undiscovered.
39 New Killer Whale Species Proposed
Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
Mon Apr 26, 9:45 am ET
|Killer whales may not be just one species but rather four or more, with each hunting different prey, living in their own kinds of groups, prowling their own unique ranges and speaking in distinct ways, according to new genetic research.
With powerful bodies, sharp minds, and the ability to work together like packs of wolves, killer whales, also called orcas, can hunt down and kill virtually anything – including great white sharks and the largest creature to ever live, the blue whale. Orcas are actually not whales at all, but the largest of all dolphins.
Scientists had suspected more than one species of killer whale had existed for quite some time, based on marked differences in behavior and subtle physical variations. In the North Pacific alone, three distinct types of killer whales were recognized:
40 Massive Asphalt Volcanoes Discovered on Seafloor
Mon Apr 26, 10:35 am ET
|Hidden in the murky depths of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, a series of asphalt volcanoes rise from the seafloor. The underwater domes are like giant parking lots, teeming with life and belching methane.
The asphalt was spewed into the sea 40,000 years ago and hardened, scientists explained today. The domes are located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the Santa Barbara coastline of California, at the bottom of the Santa Barbara Channel.
The largest of the domes lies at a depth of 700 feet (220 meters), too deep for scuba diving, which is why they hadn’t been seen until now.
41 Chimps Understand and Mourn Death, Research Suggests
Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
Mon Apr 26, 12:20 pm ET
|Chimpanzees may gather in hushed quiet to watch a fellow ape in her dying moments, and chimp mothers in the wild may carry their infants’ mummified remains for weeks, according to new research on how humanity’s closest living relatives deal with the deaths of those closest to them.
Insights into how chimpanzees respond to the death of one of their own are rare. One such instance came with the final hours of Pansy, a chimp more than 50 years old who lived in a Scottish safari park.
In the days leading up to the elderly chimp’s peaceful demise in 2008, her group was very quiet and moved to sleep near her, the researchers found. Immediately before Pansy died, others groomed and caressed her often. One male chimpanzee, Chippie, apparently tested her for signs of life as she died by closely inspecting her mouth and moving her limbs.
42 Ancient Mayan Rituals Revealed by Ordinary Objects
Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Senior Writer
Tue Apr 27, 12:10 pm ET
|Ancient Mayans farmers, builders and servants left records of their daily lives with the objects they embedded in the floors and walls of their homes during rituals in which their houses were burned down and then rebuilt, giving archaeologists today a window into everyday Mayan life.
Many of the more famous records of the Mayan civilization come from the writing and images about royals carved into monuments.
“But the commoners had their own way of recording their own history, not only their history as a family, but also their place in the cosmos,” said Lisa Lucero, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois who led a new study of objects embedded in the floors of Mayan homes occupied more than 1,000 years ago in central Belize.