23 February, 2012 – This Week in Science


Not So FTL, Scientist Comes Clean, Exercise Is good, Moon Volcanoes And Stretch Marks, Super-Earth Sauna, Mars Quakes, Old Earth, Storms Get Upgraded, Alex Lives, And Much More…

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This week in science…
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Following the news…
Maybe not so FTL: It turns out that the “faster than light” neutrinos were not quite as speedy as previously recorded. A loose cable may have effected the atomic clock used to measure the neutrinos’ speed. However, there is still a chance that the results were accurate, so further experimentation, as always, will help tell the tale.

The source of the “leaked” documents from the Heartland Institute has been revealed. Peter Gleick, a hydrologist and climate analyst, has come forward, and most certainly sacrificed his career, in order to expose the Heartland Institute’s plan to inject climate change skepticism into our schools’ curricula.

C. albicans, a fungus, has figured out how to hitch a ride with host immune signaling molecules, so that it can navigate through and tolerate and active immune system. It can even “eavesdrop” on communication within the host’s immune system, so it knows when and where to settle.

Exercise and the brain: A new study out of Japan showed that exercise lowered stores of glycogen in the brain in rats. However, when they exercised on a regular basis for four weeks, food right after exercise went straight to their head. Brain carbo-loading… does regular exercise followed by a carb-rich snack improve your mental capacity?

Exercise and burnout: New research from the Tel Aviv University indicates that a regular exercise regimen improves mental health and prevents “burnout” at work.

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Are you reading along with the TWIS Bookclub? This month, check out ‘A Planet of Viruses’ by Carl Zimmer

The same region of the brain that responds to textures when we physically touch things fires when we hear a metaphor that involves a textural description. Cool! Did I just do it?

Getting Moon-y:
Lunar vulcanism: There are moonquakes, but why no mooncanoes? Researchers used moon rocks from the Apollo 17 landing to create synthetic moon rocks, and exposed them to tremendous temperature and pressure, as well as x-ray beams. On Earth, magma is lighter than the dense surface, so it bubbles out. However, on the moon, the titanium in the magma makes it sink down to the core, preventing volcanic activity. Perhaps, someday. A girl can dream…
Recent activity: Scratches on the moon’s surface indicates stretching, in opposition to contractile forces. Lots appears to still be going on under those craters.

Planets get steamy… Scientists found a super-earth sauna under a red-dwarf sun. Do I smell a new tourist spot?

All shook up… Is an earthquake on Mars still called an “earth”quake? Boulder tracks visible on Mars indicate an earthquake within the last million years or so, at about 7.0 magnitude. This would imply volcanoes, which would in turn indicate the presence of water.

And, collided: Some volcanic rock in Russia millions of years old indicates that the mantle has changed and churned over the years, but never completely homogenized. Sections of the mantle remained unchanged through massive collisions, including the one that formed the Moon.

There may be 100,000 times more nomad planets than stars in our galaxy. You can’t help but wonder then, if our planet wandered into the Sun’s orbit from a nomad state in the milky way?

Storm Gets Upgraded
And, volcanoes aren’t that bad

Alex the Parrot lives onAnimal Cognition recently published the results of some experiments done with Alex before he passed on in 2007. Alex was inadvertently taught how to add numbers. He recognized Arabic numerals and was able to order them, add them, and equate them to the appropriate number of objects. Now that’s a bird brain!

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