20 September, 2012 – This Week in Science


World Melt, Space Shuttle Fly, Old Galaxy Seen, Brain Like Mine, Crows Get Smarter, Misinformation Factoganda, Molecular Bonds, Dead Dentists, Superconductor!, Heat To Power, TWIWRD, And Much More…

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This Week in Science… coming up next!

As the world turnswe melt
The National Snow and Ice Melting center has stated that we have reached a new record low for sea ice on our dear planet earth. We currently have 3.41 million square kilometers, or about half of the normal amount of sea ice. Also, thawing permafrost appears to be releasing a great deal of carbon dioxide. We don’t yet know how much CO2 to expect, but any extra is not great. Talk about a positive feedback loop!

Space Shuttle Fly By
The space shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to fly over parts of California on it’s way to a museum in Los Angeles. Here’s hoping for a clear day over the Golden Gate Bridge!

Oldest Galaxy ever seen!
The Hubble telescope has recently captured light that has traveled 13.2 billion lightyears, making it the oldest galaxy we’ve ever seen!

Your brain is like mine
In creating a brain atlas, scientists have discovered that one brain appears to function the same as another. What’s more, right brain and left brain appear to be fairly similar on the molecular level…

Monkey brain prosthesis
Using an electrode array, scientists have successfully manipulated monkey brain function. In fact, they effectively improved their cognitive abilities by stimulating neurons used for problem solving.

Brains without fear
Using fear conditioning, scientists created and then effectively prevented lasting effects of fear. In the future we may be able to erase fear memories from the human brain.

Memories Aren’t Real
Every time you recall a memory, you essentially rewrite it in your brain!

Crows are Smart!
New Caledonian crows, crows that we have already shown to make their own tools for food retrieval, have now shown inference in lab tests. Scientists manipulated a stick on the other side of a hide near a food source for the crows, first when the crows could see a human enter and then leave, and again when no human appeared to come in or out of the hide. The crows appeared to expect a cause for stick movement, indicating reasoned inference.

Crows remember faces – forever – and so do their friends!
The links in crows’ brains that allow them to remember faces appear to be similar to those that would help us remember.

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Why Misinformation Sticks
Apparently rejecting a premise takes cognitive effort, where accepting information is almost effortless. So the misinformed are really just lazy?

Imaging the small and near
Researchers from Zurich have found a way to visualize atomic bonds! The process is called atomic force microscopy (naturally), and the image is breathtaking.

Ancient dentists?
A 6500 year old jawbone has been found with what appears to be a beeswax filling. Was this the work of ancient dentists or did this ancient person just decide to eat some beeswax? Difficult to say…

Super material
Physicists from Germany have discovered that water-soaked carbon grains can superconduct at room temperature. The superconductive attribute of the carbon is fragile, but this is an important step on the way to true superconductive material!

Thermal material
Scientists have discovered a material that may be able to harness the heat created from engines or other heat-producing devices and create energy. Now that’s a positive feedback loop i could get behind!

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