It’s science news time, kiddos! Get ready for a dose of sexin’ turtles, a cute babby hippo, global warming fuckery, and Mickey Mouse in space!
Turtle News! Lonesome George, the last known living member of the Pinta Island subspecies of giant Galapagos tortoises, has died in captivity at an estimated age of over 100 years old. Sad. And some ancient turtles apparently went out with a bang, so to speak. Researchers at the Messel Pit near Darmstadt, Germany have unearthed several pairs of turtles who were fossilized mid-copulation. They theorize that the turtles may have gathered in shallow water to reproduce and then were poisoned by a sudden release of volcanic gasses. At least they died happy.
Sika deer in Japan have an unusual way of finding food: spying on macaques. Researchers found that by playing macaque feeding calls over loudspeakers, they could get the deer to congregate in the area from which they heard the calls. Both species eat the fruit of camphor trees, so the deer follow the monkeys to take advantage of any dropped fruits.
Baby news! An endangered Sumatran rhinoceros was born in captivity for only the fifth time ever, and it was the first such birth in Asia since 1889. Named Andatu, or “gift from God,” the birth is hoped to be an important step toward bringing the species back from the brink of extinction. And he’s pretty cute too!
The very air conditioners that bring relief from increasingly hot summers are, in fact, making the problem much worse. CFC coolants (commonly known by the trademark name freon) were banned from air conditioners because they deplete the earth’s ozone layer, and while the replacement chemicals cause far less damage to the ozone, they have devastating effects on global warming. The chemical currently used most frequently in the U.S. causes 2,100 times more warming than carbon dioxide, and with the spread of air conditioners worldwide, it’s estimated that 27% of global warming could be caused by these chemicals by 2050.
In further global warming news, sea levels are rising faster on America’s east coast than elsewhere in the world. Globally, the waters have risen about 2″ worldwide since 1990, but increases along the eastern seaboard range from 2.8″ in New York City to an astonishing 4.8″ in Norfolk, Virginia. Changes in currents and ensuing changes in the slope of the ocean’s surface are the most likely culprits of the uneven levels. Estimates show that the seas could rise as much as 3.3′ across the globe by 2100, and if this trend continues, the east coast could see an increase of closer to 4′. Yikes. And in a stunning example of illogic, the North Carolina legislature’s reaction to a state commission that predicted a 39″ sea level rise was to propose a bill that would only allow sea level forecasts based on historical data, not global warming trends. Head, meet desk.
News of which I don’t quite understand the workings but the findings sound cool! Twisting beams of light makes it possible to transmit data at incredibly fast speeds, more than one terabyte per second. The technique won’t work with current fiber-optic cables since they distort twisted light. Scientists have devised a molecule that can make “magnetic emulsions” to aid in the cleanup of oil spills. Finally, nanoparticles that shrink under UV light may be the next frontier in delivering medications directly into tumors. Badass!
Space news! Mars may have more subsurface water stores than were previously estimated. Analysis of two meteorites that were blasted out of Mars’ mantle (likely by a meteorite strike there) and landed on Earth about 2.5 million years ago shows that the interior of Mars probably has a water level of about 70-300 parts per million, as compared to Earth’s mantle which has about 50-300ppm. And NASA’s Messenger probe has found an unusual crater formation on Mercury. (All the Pluto jokes have been made already, sorry.)