Climate, World Problems

The Sixth Grand Extinction Will Be ‘Invisible’

The Quaternary period saw the extinctions of numerous predominantly larger, especially megafaunal, species, many of which occurred during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch. Among the main causes hypothesized by paleontologists are natural climate change and overkill by humans. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Life on Earth has so far passed through five distinct crises that threatened to wipe it out, typically referred to as mass extinctions. The direst one was some 252 million years ago when 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of life on land became extinct following a yet unconfirmed series of cataclysmic events known as the end-Permian extinction. Mass…

Animals, News, World Problems

Only Six Northern White Rhinos left in the World

Suni at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Suni, a 37-year-old northern white rhino and only the second male of his kind left in the world, died recently of natural causes in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy reserve in Kenya. After his death merely six other specimens are now alive that still carry the legacy of this subspecies. Conservation efforts were heavily direct towards Suni, but now that the rhino is dead, all hope…

Biology, Diseases, Health & Medicine, News

How you get Ingrown Toenails, explained by Science

ingrown_toenail

Having a ingrown toenail could ruin your day and a lot after if you don’t have it fixed. Yet, even though ingrown nails and other nail-related conditions are common and pesky, very little is known about them. Now, a team at University of Nottingham have published a mathematical model that explains what forces are tugged beneath your finger nails and what exactly happens when…

Biology, Health & Medicine, News

Paralyzed man Walks again after Nose Cells Transplant into the Spinal Chord

nose_cell

Regeneration of the spinal chord following a paralyzing injury was thought to be impossible, but groundbreaking efforts stirred by surgeons in Poland and Britain have turned this paradigm upside down. A team of dedicated surgeons and scientists transplanted  cells from the nasal cavity of a patient who had been paralyzed from the waist down for more than two years into…

Environment, Environmental Issues, News

The shortlist for the EEA’s photography competition

The long trip by Mariusz Warsinski

What does the environment mean to you? The European Environment Agency asked this question and invited photographers to have their take through a visual essay. Ducks floating along garbage; a lone, yet dominant windmill set on a twilight background; a small frog resting by the petals of a beautifully colored flower. Each artist shared an unique view of what the environment…

Feature Post, Materials

At MIT’s self-assembly lab, materials turn to life

carbon_fiber

A highly fascinating and, surprisingly for some, practical new line of research is concerned with programmable materials; composites designed to become highly dynamic in form and function. When subjected to certain environmental ques, like temperature or pressure, these smart materials can morph and adapt to new conditions. MIT, for instance, is working with self-transforming carbon fiber, printed wood grain, custom textile…

Animals, Biology, News

Ancient 385-million-year old Fish pioneered Sex

Microbrachius dicki fossils are very common, yet nobody noticed these vertebrates bore differentiated sexual organs. Photo: ROGER JONES

Paleontologists have identified the first known animals that used internal fertilization instead of spawning – armor-coated swimmers, called antiarchs, which lived around 385 million years ago in lakes in what is now Scotland. The discovery is truly monumental since its the earliest known example of sexual dimorphism or differences in appearance between the sexes in the fossil record. Sex emerged in…

News, Science

Celebrating Ada Lovelace: the first computer programmer (XIXth century)

Image: MASHABLE COMPOSITE ALFRED EDWARD CHALON/SCIENCE & SOCIETY PICTURE LIBRARY

In 1847, at the tender age of 27, Ada Lovelace became the world’s first programmer, more than a hundred years before the first computer was actually introduced. Ahead of her time is likely an understatement, and of course there’s much to learn from Lovelace’s story. This week, scientists all over the world celebrate her legacy by holding special events that…

Health & Medicine, News

Computer Simulation shows How Bacteria Resist Antibiotics

A carbapenem molecule, a last resort antibiotic, enters the carbapenemase enzyme (blue arrow), where the crucial beta-lactam structure gets broken down. The ineffective molecule then leaves (orange arrow). Image: University of Bristol

Researchers at the University of Bristol used a complex computer simulation to determine how enzymes in bacteria breakdown antibiotics, rendering them useless. The same simulation could be used to see how certain drugs respond to various bacteria, predicting their resistance and efficacy. This way, doctors will be able to prescribe the best antibiotics for a particular outbreak, saving time, energy,…

News, Physics, Renewable Energy

Hybrid Semiconductors might Smash PV Efficiency through the Roof

When light is absorbed in pentacene, the generated singlet excitons rapidly undergo fission into paris of triplets that can be efficiently transfered onto inorganic nanocrystals. Credit: Maxim Tabachnyk

A team at University of Cambridge have harvested so-called ‘dark’ spin-triplet excitons with close to 100% efficiency, a breakthrough achievement which could vastly improve the efficiency of hybrid solar cells that use both organic and inorganic semiconductor junctions. An exciting solar future Excitons are basically electrons coupled to a hole (they’re attracted to each other and form a pair). An electron gets…