cherry: (Default)
This has been an awesome two weeks for science.

The Large Hadron Collider trapped antimatter atoms (38 anti-hydrogen atoms, to be precise).

Then, scientist announces that there may be more than three times the numbers of stars and solar systems in the universe than was previously thought, potentially adding trillions more Earth-like planets.

Now, NASA has announced that a bacterium capable of replacing phosphorous with arsenic has been found. I'm not sure if I can express how potentially momentous this is: phosphorous is one the four main 'building block' elements held to be required for life. This opens up the possible environments for life not only directly but also indirectly, given opportunities for other such substitutions.

SCIENCE IS AWESOME, GUYS.
cherry: (jellyfish)
I have to be at the airport in five four and a half hours to catch a plane to the States for what will hopefully be a productive scientific conference. I am almost totally all packed and everything.

In the pre-absence cleaning, I am also cleaning out my browser tabs. (This is totally a valid alternative to doing my dishes, or reading about the multiple plane accidents this week.)

You see, I do this thing where I accumulate tabs upon tabs of scientific stories with the intention of sharing them. I mostly talk myself out of posting them, or put it off until the tab disappears for some reason or another, but here is mini-link dump.

Pulling a fast one on viral infections: Scientists may have found a metabolic pathway to exploit to help deal with viral infections.

Our galaxy's heart may be so totally dark, man, like, MySpace is the only one who understands its poetry of pain. Excess gamma rays may be indicators of dark matter in the heart of the Milky Way.

BPA is a sneaky little bugger. BPA (which was recently declared a toxic substance in Canada) readily crosses skin to enter the circulatory system. Unfortunately, most store receipts are covered with BPA, so this means handling them may be a significant route of uptake for increasing internal body burdens.

And, to end on a more joyful note: Dolphins are teaching each other to walk on water. The really interesting thing about this one is that this is a recreational behaviour that is being socially transmitted. There are records of cultural transmission of behaviours used to obtain food (sea otters and rocks, chimps using sticks to get ants, that sort of thing), but there are virtually no previous records of social/recreational behaviours being transmitted like this. This is WICKED SWEET.

I lied, I'm not done: Winning images from the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest 2010. Stunning images.
cherry: (Default)
My bus is running again! This is most excellent, because the other day I was tricked on my way back from campus by a 'modified' route. In this case, 'modified' was code for 'has the same start and ending points, but travels to them via completely different roads.' I suppose 'modified' was much shorter to say.

The pool is running again! This is most excellent because the roof of the pool suffered spontaneous existence failure. It has taken them until now to remove the ceiling from the pool. Unfortunately, this overlapped with the one time of the year when the second pool on campus was down for a 1.5 month maintenance.

There seems to be some sort of improbability field around that pool, as my swimsuit also suffered spontaneous existence failure during my afternoon swim. I thought I could get a little more life out of that one. I was wrong. Other patrons were saved from potential flashing by the presence of a shelf bra. If not for that, I fear that I would have suffered spontaneous existence failure.

In entirely unrelated (and much more awesome) news:

Darwin's finches learned to swim! Or, two types of killer whales found in UK waters. Their diets have diverged, leading to altered morphology and genetically distinct/non-interbreeding populations.

New Agers rejoice! Rare glimpse of the cave of crystals. A video tour of a crystal cave in Mexico, with crystals more than 10 metres long. It's absolutely breath-taking.

Dinosaurs were gingers. And punks. Dinosaur had ginger feathers. Electron microscope studies of preserved feathers allow study of fossilized pigments.

Photosynthetic seaslug! No, really. Photosynthetic sea slug. Not only does it acquire and scavenge chloroplasts from algae, it has incorporated at least 14-15 algal genes into its own genome.

February 2017

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