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Dead Things

Fatty Tissues Preserved In Fossil for 48 Million Years

By Gemma Tarlach | October 17, 2017 6:00 pm

It really is true: fat hangs around a long time whether you want it to or not.

Okay, so we’re not talking about stubborn love handles and saddlebags, but researchers have confirmed that fatty tissues were still identifiable in the partial fossil of a 48-million-year-old bird. The new research hints that similar soft tissues might be found in fossils sitting in museum archives around the world.

Soft tissue preservation in fossils is rare but not unheard of. Earlier this year, resear …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: fossils, paleontology

D-brief

How Volcanoes Starved Ancient Egypt

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 17, 2017 4:05 pm

Ancient Egypt was the most powerful civilization in the world for a time. The monuments built by laborers to honor pharaohs stand to this day, testament to the vast resources at their command.

But the architectural excess hid a crippling weakness. Egypt sits in the middle of a vast desert. To support a population that numbered in the millions, large-scale agriculture was vital, and for that you need water, and therefore, the Nile. The river was so important to the Egyptians that they st …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World, top posts
Flirtey has partnered with a Nevada-based emergency services organization to enable delivery drones to respond to 9-11 calls ahead of ambulances. Credit: Andi Kilgore | Flirtey Inc.

Lovesick Cyborg

Defibrillator Drones Aim to Respond in 911 Calls

By Jeremy Hsu | October 16, 2017 6:36 pm

Delivery drones carrying defibrillators could begin swooping in to save American victims of cardiac arrest starting in 2018. A new partnership between a delivery drone startup and an emergency medical services provider aims to dispatch defibrillator drones ahead of ambulances in response to 911 calls made in northern Nevada.

Using drones to deliver life-saving automatic external defibrillators for restarting victims’ hearts could have a huge impact. Cardiac arrest represents the leadin …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

D-brief

In Makira, Flying Fox Teeth Are Currency...And That Could Save the Species

By Charles Choi | October 16, 2017 4:00 pm

On the island of Makira, hunters use the teeth of giant bats known as flying foxes as currency. Now, perhaps paradoxically, researchers suggest this practice could help save these bats from potential extinction.

The giant tropical fruit bats known as flying foxes are the largest bats in the world. Of the 65 flying fox species alive today, 31 are under threat of extinction, and 28 of these threatened species live on islands.

Makira is one of the Solomon Islands, which lie roughly a thou …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

D-brief

Even Einstein Doubted His Own Gravitational Waves

By Eric Betz | October 16, 2017 3:45 pm

Even before LIGO published its fifth detection this week, most modern scientists had already accepted gravitational waves as an observable manifestation of Einstein’s general relativity. But that hasn’t always been the case.

As recently as the 1970s, scientists weren’t sure gravitational waves were strong enough to detect. Other theorists rejected their existence outright.
Unsure Genius
Interestingly, Einstein himself was a prominent doubter. In 1936, twenty years after he introd …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics

D-brief

Gravitational Waves Show How Fast The Universe is Expanding

By Nathaniel Scharping | October 16, 2017 3:31 pm

The first gravitational wave observed from a neutron star merger offers the potential for a whole raft of new discoveries. Among them is a more precise measurement of the Hubble constant, which captures how fast our universe is expanding.

Ever since the Big Bang, everything in the universe has been spreading apart. It also turns out that this is happening faster and faster — the rate of expansion is increasing.

We’ve known this for a century, but astronomers haven’t been able to get  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

D-brief

Astronomers Tally All the Gold in Our Galaxy

By Eric Betz | October 16, 2017 2:15 pm

Before “he went to Jared,” two neutron stars collided.

That’s what scientists learned from studying the debris fallout after a cosmic explosion called a kilonova — 1,000 times brighter than a standard nova — which appeared, and was witnessed by astronomers, in earthly skies Aug. 17.

For decades, astronomers debated the origins of the heaviest elements, which includes precious metals, rare Earth elements and basically everything on the bottom rungs of the periodic table, from plat …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: cosmology, stars

D-brief

Heads Up! A Chinese Space Station Will Plummet to Earth Within Months

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 16, 2017 1:05 pm

When you go outside you may expect rain to occasionally fall from the sky, maybe even excrement from our flying friends — but a rogue space station? As we learned from Sir Isaac Newton, “What goes up must come down,” and China’s Tiangong-1 space station is coming down fast.

The space station will plummet to Earth any time between now and April 2018, the Guardian reported last week. News broke in September 2016 that the 8.5-ton space station, called Tiangong-1, meaning “heavenly …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics

D-brief

California Wants to Take Human Training Wheels Off Autonomous Vehicles

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 16, 2017 12:42 pm

You’ve read about self-driving cars cruising around California as companies try to prove and perfect their tech. A human sits in each car, but not because they want to joyride: it’s the law.

But that could change.

Last week, California lawmakers proposed legislation that would make it legal for companies to test self-driving cars without a human watchdog in the vehicle, and for commercial operations to begin as early as 2018. Just over 40 companies have been issued California Auto …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: cars

D-brief

Dawn of an Era: Astronomers Hear and See Cosmic Collision

By Eric Betz | October 16, 2017 9:00 am

For hundreds of millions of years, two city-sized stars in a galaxy not-so-far away circled each other in a fatal dance. Their dimensions were diminutive, but each outweighed our sun.

They were neutron stars — the collapsed cores left behind after giant stars explode into supernovas. Closer and closer they spun, shedding gravitational energy, until the stars traveled at nearly the speed of light, completing an orbit 100 times every second.

By then, dinosaurs reigned on Earth, and the …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
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