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Cool Bat Tricks

Bats put on a dazzling air show.  Science Daily revealed that the acrobatic mammals have magnetic instruments.  Somehow, they are able to use the magnetite in their cells as navigational aids.  Scientists from Leeds University and Princeton conducted experiments on large brown bats.  They were able to steer the bats off course by issuing magnetic […]

Why Blood Clots Are Stretchy

A team of biophysicists at University of Illinois ran a computation for six months to find out why blood clots are stretchy.  The primary protein in the clot, fibrinogen, can stretch two to three times its resting size.  By studying the force on every atom in the protein, Science Daily said, they produced a force […]

Sea Monsters Were for Real, and Other Wonders Under the Sea

National Geographic News published a story about a real sea monster.  A fossil pliosaur nearly 50 feet in length, the largest marine reptile ever found, was discovered in permafrost just 800 miles from the North Pole, on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.  Scientists estimate it had such strong teeth and muscles […]

Prevent Drought: Hire a Beaver

“Beavers can help ease drought,” say scientists from University of Alberta.  EurekAlert published a press release about a 54-year study that showed beaver kept open water wetlands available.  They seem to even mitigate the effects of global warming.  “Climate models predict the incidence of drought in parts of North America will increase in frequency and […]

Fast Protein Fine-Tunes the Ear

Remember prestin?  It’s a motor protein in the inner ear, discovered in 2001 (03/27/2001), that acts so fast – within millionths of a second – its discoverers named it after the word “presto!” (02/21/2002).  Scientists have been studying its role as a volume adjuster (07/31/2007) that allows it to amplify sound 10,000-fold (09/19/2002) .  New […]

Migrating Birds Measure Longitude

Migrating birds are able to get back on course, even when released 1000 km east of their normal migration path.  This shows that long-distance migrating birds are capable of true bicoordinate navigation: the ability to make course corrections both in latitude and longitude.  The results of experiments, published in Current Biology,1 left the researchers baffled: […]

Did Birds Evolve Aeronautical Engineering?

Two news stories on birds may not seem to flock together.  One is about their supreme aeronautical engineering.  The other ponders when they evolved.     A story on EurekAlert and Science Daily describes how engineers are eyeing birds, bats and insects for design ideas.  The appeal is clear from the following comparisons: A Blackbird […]

Nose Code Rockets Smell Discrimination

You have a code in your nose.  Scientists working on fruit fly olfactory systems have found that a mapping mechanism between components maximizes the fly’s ability to discriminate smells.  The coding system provides a non-linear response that appears finely tuned to maximize the information content of odor inputs.     The components of this system […]

A Pitcher of Health, and Reasons to Love Slime

Pitcher plants contain chemicals that just might help medicine and agriculture, reported PhysOrg.  A Japanese team found a myriad of interesting proteins in this “evolutionary marvel,” a plant that eats insect meat.     Now for some slimy good news.  PhysOrg said, “You know algae.  It’s the gunk that collects on the sides of a […]

Getting a Hand on Facts and Meanings

What could be more simple than pressing a button with your finger?  That “seemingly trivial action is the result of a complex neuro-motor-mechanical process orchestrated with precision timing by the brain, nervous system and muscles of the hand.”  So says a press release from University of Southern California posted on EurekAlert.     Simple, everyday […]

Butterfly Wings Flash Shiny Optical Tricks

You can get brilliant colors without pigment if you build patterns near the wavelengths of light.  Butterflies have the trick down to a science.  Their wings shimmer and shine with brilliant colors produced by nanostructures that scientists want to imitate.     Science Daily told how butterflies and moths, even the white-winged varieties, use nanostructures […]

Solar System Super Snapshots

Here are some of the most fascinating new images coming from spacecraft out there on duty – but they didn’t just come in on their own.  They are brought to you by highly intelligent and dedicated human beings: the navigators, instrument teams, deep space network engineers, flight controllers and scientists who gather and distribute the […]

Quality Control Ensures Accurate Cell Division

Cell division (mitosis) is a very complex process in which every part must be accurately duplicated and sent to the proper destination.  Picture a marching band where each flute player or tuba player is able to clone itself.  The players congregate at the center in two lines, divide, and move apart, forming two marching bands […]

The Bible on a Pin

Israeli scientists have reproduced the Old Testament on a chip smaller than a pin head reported PhysOrg.  They’re calling it the world’s tiniest Bible.  A picture of the chip, the size of a grain of sugar, was included in the report on the BBC News.     The scientists managed their feat, the article explains, […]

DNA Translation Has Codes Upon Codes

The DNA code is protected by another code, and is read with a machine that reads a third code.  This is an emerging picture from ongoing research into DNA transcription, as reported in Science.1     In the 1950s, scientists were astonished to find a code at the genetic basis of life.  DNA’s four-letter alphabet, […]
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