Sea Monkeys Stir the Ocean On Par With Tides or Wind

By Carl Engelking | September 30, 2014 10:56 am

sea monkey

A single sea monkey is an insignificant speck of dust in the vast ocean — or plastic tank. But assemble a swarm of these ocean invertebrates, and they transform into a collective force that generates ocean currents on par with tides and the wind, a new study reports.

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology demonstrated that sea monkeys (whose scientific name is brine shrimp) create tiny, swirling currents as they migrate up and down the water column over the course of the day. These currents are significantly amplified when brine shrimp and other zooplankton migrate en masse. And new calculations indicate these tiny critters have an impact on the distribution of ocean nutrients on a global scale. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

World’s First 3-D Printed Car Takes to the Streets

By Carl Engelking | September 29, 2014 2:28 pm
(Credit: Local Motors)

A prototype of the Strati, a 3-D printed vehicle. (Credit: Local Motors)

Henry Ford’s assembly line famously transformed the automobile industry in the 20th century – and a new company is hoping to bring about a similar revolution in the 21st, with its recently unveiled 3-D printed vehicle.

The company is Local Motors, designers of the Strati. The car was printed in about 44 hours on site earlier this month at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. In contrast to the thousands of components in a traditional vehicle, the Strati consists of fewer than 50 parts. Most of its body is built from extruded plastic of the kind that Lego bricks are made of. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts

Cirque Du Soleil Choreographed a Dance For Drones

By Carl Engelking | September 26, 2014 1:25 pm

Wherever you find science, you don’t have to look far for art. Whether it’s diatom arranging or turning algorithms into murals, artists will always add a human twist to the fruits of scientific inquiry.

And their latest medium? Drones. Aerial drones are already useful for scientists and hobbyists alike, but leave it to the folks at Cirque du Soleil to figure out a way to dance with them. In the new short film “Sparked,” man and drone prove that state-of-the-art technology can seamlessly blend into a magical choreographed performance.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: robots

Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

By Carl Engelking | September 25, 2014 1:00 pm

water sunlight

The sun, at 4.6 billion years old, predates all the other bodies in our solar system. But it turns out that much of the water we swim in and drink here on Earth is even older.

A new model of the chemistry of the early solar system finds that up to half the water now on Earth was inherited from an abundant supply of interstellar ice as our sun formed. That means our solar system’s moisture wasn’t the result of local conditions in the proto-planetary disk, but rather a regular feature of planetary formation — raising hopes that life could indeed exist elsewhere in the universe.  Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Antarctic Fish Live With Ice In Their Veins Year-Round

By Carl Engelking | September 24, 2014 2:44 pm
icefish

Nototheniod fish swims at McMurdo Sound. Photo: Paul Cziko courtesy University of Oregon

Native fish species that brave the frigid waters of the Antarctic have ice in their blood, literally.

To survive in the coldest climate on Earth, Antarctic notothenioid fish have specialized anti-freeze proteins in their blood that bind to ice crystals and inhibit their growth, keeping these fish from turning into fishcicles. Paradoxically, however, a new study finds that these same proteins also prevent ice crystals from melting, leading to a buildup of ice in fishes’ veins that persists year-round and could be harmful to their health. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Live: Explore Deep-Sea Canyons Never Before Seen by Humans

By Carl Engelking | September 23, 2014 11:51 am

With about 95 percent still unexplored, the ocean is mankind’s final frontier here on Earth. And at this very moment you can join scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in their quest to learn more about this deep blue void.

The United States’ only federally funded ship designated for ocean exploration, the Okeanos Explorer, is on another mission to explore noteworthy sites at the bottom of the sea. This time, the crew is cruising off the coast of New England in the Atlantic Ocean gathering data about deep-sea canyons and mountain ranges.

Above, you can watch live video feeds from the ocean rover Deep Discoverer and listen to scientists explaining what they’re seeing. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: earth science, ocean

Seat of Selflessness Found in Brains of Extreme Altruists

By Carl Engelking | September 22, 2014 4:16 pm

helping the homeless

Altruism has posed a puzzle for psychologists and evolutionary biologists for centuries. Why is it that humans will help others even to their own detriment?

A new study sheds light on the answer to that question by studying the brains of extreme altruists – people on the extreme end of the caring continuum. In this case researchers chose to study people who donated a kidney to a complete stranger. They found that not only are extreme altruists’ brains different from a normal person’s, they’re basically the opposite of a psychopath’s in one key way – indicating that a specific brain region may play an important role in people’s ability to care for one another. 
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

Making Microscopic Stained Glass, From Algae

By Carl Engelking | September 19, 2014 11:42 am
Screengrab from "The Diatomist" by Matthew Killip

Screenshot from “The Diatomist” by Matthew Killip

During the height of the Victorian era, some of the finest works of art could only be viewed through a microscope. Their materials: The tiniest flotsam and jetsam of nature, and glue.

Starting in the 1830s, commercial demand for slides prepared with specimens such as insect scales, spines, and microscopic organisms skyrocketed as professionals and amateurs grew deeply interested in studying the microcosm. Diatoms, in particular, were a favored medium. These single-cell algae protected by glass shells come in thousands of different shapes, sizes, colors and varieties, and you can find them virtually anywhere there’s water.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: earth science, water

Could Diet Sodas Be Making Us Fatter?

By Carl Engelking | September 18, 2014 2:36 pm

shutterstock_169952210

The artificial sweeteners in “diet” beverages, thought to help people trim their waistlines, may be having the opposite effect.

A new study reveals that three of the leading artificial sweeteners produce an increase ­in blood-sugar levels in both mice and humans, by disrupting the balance of helpful gut bacteria. High blood-sugar levels, in turn, are the telltale sign of glucose intolerance, a condition which can evolve into diabetes and metabolic disease. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

World Population Won’t Stabilize This Century After All

By Ben Thomas | September 18, 2014 1:02 pm

population

It’s no secret that the world’s population is growing. The 7.2 billion humans currently on Earth may represent only a fraction of what’s to come. And although previous studies have predicted that the world’s population will stabilize around 2050, a new study projects that the population may continue to grow, to the end of this century and beyond: to 9.6 billion in 2050 and 10.9 billion in 2100.

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