Science

Hear the Otherworldly Sounds of Skating on Thin Ice / National Geographic

This small lake outside Stockholm, Sweden, emits otherworldly sounds as Mårten Ajne skates over its precariously thin, black ice. Wild ice skating, or Nordic skating, is both an art and a science. A skater seeks out the thinnest, most pristine black ice possible — both for its smoothness, and for its high-pitched, laser-like sounds — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

Why do animals have such different lifespans? / Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

For the microscopic lab worm C elegans, life equates to just a few short weeks on Earth. The bowhead whale, on the other hand, can live over two hundred years. Why are these lifespans so different? And what does it really mean to age anyway? Joao Pedro de Magalhaes explains why the pace of ageing varies greatly across animals.

Lesson by Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, animation by Sharon Colman — via Youtube

Science

Why Is Blue So Rare In Nature? / It’s Okay To Be Smart

Among living things, the color blue is oddly rare. Blue rocks, blue sky, blue water, sure. But blue animals? They are few and far between. And the ones that do make blue? They make it in some very strange and special ways compared to other colors. In this video, we’ll look at some very cool butterflies to help us learn how living things make blue, and why this beautiful hue is so rare in nature — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

If Australian animals don’t poison you or eat you, they’ll burn down your house

Already replete with sharks, crocodiles, snakes and poisonous jellyfish galore, Australia may also be home to arsonist birds that spread fire so they can feed on animals as they flee.

The belief that birds like the Whistling Kite, Black Kite and Brown Falcon spread grass fires goes back so far that it’s commemorated in indigenous ceremonial dances, according to Bob Gosford, a co-author of this paper in the Journal of Enthnobiology.

The paper posits that the behaviour isn’t accidental: Most accounts and traditions unequivocally indicate intentionality on the part of three raptor species and a handful provide evidence of cooperative fire-spreading by select individuals from within larger fire-foraging raptor assemblages, it notes.

And while the researchers’ main interest was to confirm and document those stories, Gosford told Vulture South the research is also important to understanding how fire spreads in Australia.

This may give us cause to re-examine fire history, and the conduct of fire in this country, Gosford said — via The Register

Craft, Science

At first glance this crocheted blanket just looks like a pretty pattern. But it is actually so much more! The blanket maps out climate change over the course of the past 130 years. Each hexagon represents a single year and the colours represent the change from the mid century average.

This ingenious data visualization blanket is the brainchild of Lara Cooper. By day, Cooper is a wildlife conservation biologist. But when she isn’t in the lab she runs Level Up Nerd Apparel, an online store where she makes and sells nerdy apparel. This project was the perfect way for her to put both of those skills together — via Make: Zine

Science

‘Revolutionary’ super glue could treat wounds in car crashes, war zones

Australian researchers have developed a new superglue-like substance that can be squirted onto wounds — even internal ones — to seal them within seconds, potentially revolutionising treatment in war zones and at the site of car crashes.

The gel works like the regular bathroom sealant commonly used for tiling, but is made from a natural elastic protein.

You can just squirt it onto a wound site, zap it with light and the whole thing sets in a matter of seconds, University of Sydney biochemistry professor Anthony Weiss said — via ABC News

History, Science

Scientists uncover Ancient Roman recipe for world’s most durable concrete

Ancient Roman concrete marine structures built thousands of years ago are stronger now than when they were first built.

So how has Roman concrete outlasted the empire, while modern concrete mixtures erode within decades of being exposed to seawater?

Scientists have uncovered the chemistry behind how Roman sea walls and harbour piers resisted the elements, and what modern engineers could learn from it.

Romans built their sea walls from a mixture of lime (calcium oxide), volcanic rocks and volcanic ash, a study, published in the journal American Mineralogist, found.

Elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the concrete structure and prevent cracks from growing over time.

It’s the most durable building material in human history, and I say that as an engineer not prone to hyperbole, Roman monument expert Phillip Brune told the Washington Post — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Art, History, Science

History’s deadliest colours / JV Maranto

When radium was first discovered, its luminous green colour inspired people to add it into beauty products and jewelry. It wasn’t until much later that we realized that radium’s harmful effects outweighed its visual benefits. Unfortunately, radium isn’t the only pigment that historically seemed harmless or useful but turned out to be deadly. JV Maranto details history’s deadliest colours — via Youtube

Science

Forensic scientists overwhelmed by number of donors to NSW body farm

Forensic scientists say they have been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to donate their corpses to the southern hemisphere’s first body farm.

The secret bushland facility on the outskirts of Sydney is being used to study how human bodies decompose.

It was established in early 2016 by Professor Shari Forbes, a forensic scientist from the University of Technology Sydney.

We’re not CSI, we don’t solve investigations in an hour, but we can solve investigations through the research that we do, Professor Forbes said.

The facility is currently the only body farm outside the United States and Professor Forbes said the public interest had been higher than anyone had expected.

The level of interest has definitely surprised us, she said.

We already have 30 of our donors who have arrived at our facility, and that’s in just over a year.

We weren’t expecting anywhere near that number.

More than 500 people have now said they will also donate their bodies to the cause once they die.

We do have a slight bias towards seniors and the elderly, thankfully because they live long and healthy lives and intend to die from natural causes, Professor Forbes said.

We don’t hope to see young people out there, but the few that arrive are really beneficial to the work that we do for the police — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too

When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, you are immediately confronted with a paradox: They organize their lives around their work, but not their days.

Figures as different as Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman, working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus. Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking. Their creativity and productivity, in other words, were not the result of endless hours of toil. Their towering creative achievements result from modest working hours.

How did they manage to be so accomplished? Can a generation raised to believe that 80-hour workweeks are necessary for success learn something from the lives of the people who laid the foundations of chaos theory and topology or wrote Great Expectations?

I think we can. If some of history’s greatest figures didn’t put in immensely long hours, maybe the key to unlocking the secret of their creativity lies in understanding not just how they laboured but how they rested, and how the two relate — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Why is Greenland an Island and Australia a Continent? / Today I Found Out

There are several different ways of thinking about how many continents there are, with models ranging from 4 to 7 continents. However, in most English speaking countries, as well as other nations around the world, the 7-continent model is taught. Using this model, the continents of the world in order of size (descending) are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

How a simple implant could make native animals toxic to feral cats

A new approach to target and kill destructive feral cats is being developed in South Australia, in a bid to help save threatened native animals.

The task of reducing the feral cat population has been difficult due to the lack of effective and humane broad-scale control techniques.

In a lab at the University of South Australia, researchers have created a rice-sized implant that can be injected into native animals, making them toxic to feral cats.

Anton Blencowe, polymer chemistry expert at the university, said it was a unique approach that could help safeguard a range of endangered species.

It’s got a toxin in the middle, and then it’s got a special coating around the outside so that we can make the animals toxic to cats, he said.

But at the same time make sure the implant is not toxic to native animals.

The implant contains a natural poison from seeds of native plants and is covered by protective coating.

It remains inert until it comes into contact with the feral cat, and while it’s harmless to the native animal, to the predator it’s highly deadly once ingested — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Mediaeval Yorkshirefolk mutilated, burned t’dead to prevent reanimation

Archaeologists investigating human bones excavated from the deserted mediaeval village of Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire have suggested that the villagers burned and mutilated corpses to prevent the dead from rising from their graves to terrorise the living.

Although starvation cannibalism often accounts for the mutilation of corpses during the Middle Ages, when famines were common, researchers from Historic England and the University of Southampton have found that the ways in which the Wharram Perry remains had been dismembered suggested actions more significant of folk beliefs about preventing the dead from going walkabout.

Their paper, titled A multidisciplinary study of a burnt and mutilated assemblage of human remains from a deserted mediaeval village in England, is published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Fungi Fantastic / Steve Axford

Enter the magical miniature world of fungi in these time-lapses by fungi photographer Stephen Axford.

Two photographers, Steve Axford and Catherine Marciniak, only one intervalometer and a forecast of a stormy Sunday afternoon resulted in the story of a forest to go with the fabulous time-lapse photography Steve has been doing of fungi growing — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

Night parrot sighting in Western Australia shocks birdwatching world

A group of four birdwatchers from Broome has photographed Australia’s most mysterious bird, the night parrot, in Western Australia.

The sighting is all that more remarkable when you consider that the night parrot was not confirmed as still alive in Australia until three years ago, and that the photograph was taken in a patch of spinifex 2,000 kilometres from where the bird was rediscovered in Western Queensland.

While the group described the parrot as a fat budgerigar, the sighting was the equivalent of winning the bird watching lotto — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Boaty McBoatface submarine set for first voyage

The yellow submarine named Boaty McBoatface is set to leave for Antarctica this week on its first science expedition.

The robot is going to map the movement of deep waters that play a critical role in regulating Earth’s climate.

Boaty carries the name that a public poll had suggested be given to the UK’s future £200m polar research vessel.

The government felt this would be inappropriate and directed the humorous moniker go on a submersible instead.

But what many people may not realise is that there is actually more than one Boaty. The name covers a trio of vehicles in the new Autosub Long Range class of underwater robots developed at Southampton’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

These machines can all be configured slightly differently depending on the science tasks they are given.

The one that will initiate the adventures of Boaty will head out of Punta Arenas, Chile, on Friday aboard Britain’s current polar ship, the RRS James Clark Ross.

The JCR will drop the sub into a narrow, jagged, 3,500m-deep gap in an underwater ridge that extends northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Referred to as the Orkney Passage, this is the gateway into the Atlantic for much of the bottom-water that is created as sea-ice grows on the margins of the White Continent — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Planet Earth II showcases the fungi photography of Steve Axford

Planet Earth II, possibly the most lavish nature documentary ever made, has catapulted the images taken by fungi photographer Steve Axford from the forest floor to the world.

Axford started photographing rainforests around Lismore, on the NSW North Coast, about 10 years ago, and in retirement the hobby became an obsession.

The next step for Axford was to find a way to create time lapses of his fungi beauties showing the life cycles of the mushrooms.

I had a spare shower which I thought the fungus would grow quite well in so I could bring logs in and put them in the shower and the fungus could grow and I could take time lapse, Axford said.

Well I did that and it worked brilliantly and things have just grown from there.

Time lapse footage of Axford’s fungi photography have gone viral online, and people around the world started to notice that he was discovering plants never seen before.

One of them was a fungus which is now called a blue truffle.

It’s a completely new thing — never seen before — and he’s found that on the forest floor, Dr Tom May from the Herbarium of Victoria said — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

25 Airbag Rainbow Explosion in 4K / The Slow Mo Guys

Gav and Dan, the Slow-Mo Guys, are always looking for something to film with their high-speed cameras. Something that people will find interesting, but more important, things that will look good in a video. Explosions? Yeah! Pretty colors? Yeah! So they gathered bags of paint powder and vehicle airbag devices and headed out to a quarry, far from anyone who would be bothered — via Youtube

Craft, Science

This instructable documents makendo’s efforts to reimagine a 3D periodic table of the elements, using modern making methods. It’s based on the structure of a chiral nanotube, and is made from a 3D printed lattice, laser cut acrylic, a lazy susan bearing, 118 sample vials and a cylindrical lamp — via Instructables

Science, Wildlife

Octopus, squid and cuttlefish numbers boom in changing oceans

A surprising 60-year boom in global octopus, squid and cuttlefish numbers points to long-term changes taking place in the world’s oceans, scientists say.

Research published in Current Biology today shows a steady increase in the world cephalopod population — the class of molluscs comprising octopus, squid and cuttlefish — since the 1950s, at a time of increased fishing, growing pollution and ocean warming.

The data analysis, led by Dr Zoe Doubleday from Australia’s Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, has confounded previous expectations that cephalopod populations go through cyclical booms and busts.

Anecdotal evidence had suggested the population may experience cyclical booms and busts over time, but there is instead a very consistent increase, she said — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Boaty McBoatface snubbed as name for UK research vessel

The British Government has chosen to name its now-famous polar research ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough, on the verge of the naturalist’s 90th birthday, in a snub to the popular choice, Boaty McBoatface.

In a media release and series of tweets, UK Science Minister Jo Johnson said that Boaty McBoatface will live on as the name of one of the high-tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicles — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Weird

Boaty McBoatface wins naming poll for Britain’s new polar research ship

The United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) may be regretting their decision to let the public name a polar research ship after the winner of the naming poll was revealed.

The name Boaty McBoatface, which caused an internet sensation during voting, was the runaway winner, beating entries honouring explorers and scientists.

The quirky name put forward for the £200 million ($369 million) Royal Research Ship received 124,109 votes, giving it a staggering lead over runner-up RRS Poppy Mai, named in honour of a young girl with cancer, which received 34,371 votes.

Coming in at third place was RSS Henry Worsley, a tribute to the British explorer. Fourth place was RRS It’s Bloody Cold Here, and RRS David Attenborough also made the top five.

Although Boaty McBoatface received overwhelming public support, the final decision rests with NERC, which may choose to ignore democracy for a less frivolous title — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Weird

RRS Boaty McBoatface could be the name of the newest British research ship

The public has been asked to name Britain’s newest polar research ship and the internet has really outdone itself.

The current frontrunner?

RRS Boaty McBoatface.

The Natural Environment Research Centre is probably regretting trusting the public and the internet with the responsibility of naming the £200 million Royal Research Ship.

So far nearly 6,000 voters have chosen RRS Boaty McBoatface, but the top ten also includes RRS Pingu and RRS Usain Bolt.

RRS Boaty McBoatface is also beating RRS David Attenborough and RRS Henry Worsley, named after a famous British explorer and following in the tradition of naming the ships after iconic adventurers — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Art, Science

Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future — via Visions of the Future

Science

Homeopathy effective for 0 out of 68 illnesses, study finds

A leading scientist has declared homeopathy a therapeutic dead-end after a systematic review concluded the controversial treatment was no more effective than placebo drugs.

Professor Paul Glasziou, a leading academic in evidence based medicine at Bond University, was the chair of a working party by the National Health and Medical Research Council which was tasked with reviewing the evidence of 176 trials of homeopathy to establish if the treatment is valid.

A total of 57 systematic reviews, containing the 176 individual studies, focused on 68 different health conditions — and found there to be no evidence homeopathy was more effective than placebo on any.

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine based on the idea of diluting a substance in water. According to the NHS: Practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat symptoms. Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left — via redwolf.newsvine.com

History, Science

200,000 fish bones suggest ancient Scandinavian people were more complex than thought

200,000 fish bones discovered in and around a pit in Sweden suggest that the people living in the area more than 9000 years ago were more settled and cultured than we previously thought. Research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science suggests people were storing large amounts of fermented food much earlier than experts thought.

The new paper reveals the earliest evidence of fermentation in Scandinavia, from the Early Mesolithic time period, about 9,200 years ago. The author of the study, from Lund University in Sweden, say the findings suggest that people who survived by foraging for food were actually more advanced than assumed — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

What every dictator knows: young men are natural fanatics

Young men are particularly liable to become fanatics. Every dictator, every guru, every religious leader, knows this. Fanatics have an overwhelming sense of identity based on a cause (a religion) or a community (gang, team), and a tight and exclusive bond with other members of that group. They will risk injury, loss or even death for the sake of their group. They regard everyone else as outsiders, or even enemies. But why are so many of them young males? — via Aeon

Science, Wildlife

Wolf species have ‘howling dialects’

The largest ever study of howling in the canid family of species — which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs — has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or vocal fingerprints: different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species.

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling.

They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used — from flat to highly modulated — corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

David Bowie: Astronomers pay tribute to Starman with his own constellation

After 69 years living among us, The Man Who Fell To Earth has returned home to space.

Belgian astronomers have paid tribute to late music legend David Bowie, giving him a seven-star constellation in the shape of the iconic lightning bolt seen across his face on the cover of his Aladdin Sane album.

Bowie died last week aged 69, after an 18-month battle with cancer.

The homage to Bowie, whose hits include Starman, Life on Mars and Space Oddity, sits — appropriately — in the vicinity of Mars — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

The man who studies the spread of ignorance

In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

It comes from agnosis, the neoclassical Greek word for ignorance or not knowing, and ontology, the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of being. Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

A team of scientists from Brunel University London, UK has come up with a solar panel/heat pipe hybrid system, which basically turns the whole roof into a solar power generator. This makes the panels a lot more efficient, since this system is able to harvest more solar energy than just solar panels alone.

This system is made up of flat heat pipes and PV cells, which can heat water and generate electricity. The pipes measure 4mm x 400mm and are used to heat water to be used by the household, while at the same time transferring heat away from the solar cells. In the tests by the creators, they found that this hybrid system was able to cool the PV cells by 15 percent more compared to a traditional PV array installation — via Jetson Green