Tremendous amounts of soot, lofted into the air from global wildfires following a massive asteroid strike 66 million years ago, would have plunged Earth into darkness for nearly two years, new research finds. This would have shut down photosynthesis, drastically cooled the planet, and contributed to the mass extinction that marked the end of the age of dinosaurs.
Standard behavior experiments to investigate behavior in popular lab animals only incompletely mimic natural conditions. The understanding of behavior and brain function is thus limited. Virtual Reality helps in generating a more natural experimental environment but requires immobilization of the animal, disrupting sensorimotor experience and causing altered neuronal and behavioral responses. Researchers have now developed a VR system for freely moving animals to overcome most of these limitations.
In an experiment designed to mimic the conditions deep inside the icy giant planets of our solar system, scientists were able to observe 'diamond rain' for the first time as it formed in high-pressure conditions. Extremely high pressure squeezes hydrogen and carbon found in the interior of these planets to form solid diamonds that sink slowly down further into the interior.
Researchers have created an original music composition for Monday's eclipse. They uses drums, synthesized tones and other sounds to symbolize the movements of the sun and moon and the gradual darkness they will produce during the August 21 event.
Decades of research has shown that apes, in spite of their proverbial aping abilities, are rather poor imitators, especially when compared to human children. Current theories hold that apes are worse imitators because they lack this social and communicative side of imitation. A new study has instead targeted the interactive side of imitation directly, and finds that the divide between humans and chimpanzees is less clear cut.
Scientists have tapped into the microbiome of elite runners and rowers, and have identified particular bacteria that may aid athletic performance. The goal is to develop probiotic supplements that may help athletes -- and even amateur fitness enthusiasts -- recover from a tough workout or more efficiently convert nutrients to energy. The researchers will present their work today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
Astrophysicists have discovered two detached, eclipsing double white dwarf binaries with orbital periods of 40 and 46 minutes, respectively. White dwarfs are the remnants of Sun-like stars, many of which are found in pairs, or binaries.
Ever more people are suffering from cardiac insufficiency. The main cause of reduced cardiac functionality lies in the irreversible loss of cardiac muscle cells due to disease, especially ischemic diseases such as cardiac infarction. There is still no treatment to reverse damage of this nature. Research is ongoing to develop methods of repairing such damage to normalize cardiac function. A promising approach: cardiac muscle tissue made of spider silk.
There is a reason why whisky is diluted with water before being bottled. The same reason also makes many whisky enthusiasts add a few drops of water in their glasses – it makes the whisky taste better. But why is this so? Researchers have now presented an answer to this question.
Astrophysicists have predicted that an Earth-like planet may be lurking in a star system just 16 light years away. The team investigated the star system Gliese 832 for additional exoplanets residing between the two currently known alien worlds in this system. Their computations revealed that an additional Earth-like planet with a dynamically stable configuration may be residing at a distance ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 astronomical unit (AU) from the star.
Have your coffee without spilling the milk: researchers have developed a milk capsule that dissolves when placed in a hot drink. Not only does this reduce the consumption of packaging material, the capsules are easier to use than conventional plastic containers.
Vinegar flies should normally try to avoid their sick conspecifics to prevent becoming infected themselves. Nevertheless they are irresistibly attracted to the smell given off by sick flies. A dramatic increase in the production of the sex pheromones responsible for the attractive odor of the infected flies is caused by pathogens: this perfidious strategy is used by the deadly germs to enable them to infect healthy flies and spread even further.
Observations of 'Jellyfish galaxies' with ESO's Very Large Telescope have revealed a previously unknown way to fuel supermassive black holes. It seems the mechanism that produces the tentacles of gas and newborn stars that give these galaxies their nickname also makes it possible for the gas to reach the central regions of the galaxies, feeding the black hole that lurks in each of them and causing it to shine brilliantly.
Hot weather can affect human behavior and has been linked to political rebellions and riots. A new study, the first to examine the influence of changes in temperature on peaceful and democratic political behavior, finds that voter behavior can change with increases in state-level temperature. For every 10C rise in temperature, voter turnout increased by 1.4 percent. In addition, when the weather was warmer, citizens chose to vote for the incumbent party.
Supercapacitors promise recharging of phones and other devices in seconds and minutes as opposed to hours for batteries. But current technologies are not usually flexible, have insufficient capacities, and for many their performance quickly degrades with charging cycles. Researchers have found a way to improve all three problems in one stroke.