August 2021
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Glaciers Are Disappearing and So Too Might the Microbial Ecosystems Within

By James Gaines, Inside Science

As climate change melts away frozen landscapes, scientists rush to discover all they can about the tiny organisms that thrive on ice. It was a hard hike up to the glacier. Pico Humboldt is the second-highest mountain peak in Venezuela and it'd taken three days for Andrés Yarzábal and his colleagues to make it to the top. They'd faced bad weather, strong winds and rocky terrain, but now the goal was close at hand. In front of them lay La Corona, also sometimes called Humboldt Glacier, one of the last two glaciers in the entire country. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media rights: CC BY-SA 3.0
3D Technology Looks for Osteoarthritis

Researchers are using the motion capture technology to look at the hand movements in patients with possible osteoarthritis. Hollywood has been using motion capture technology in the movies for decades, helping animated characters come to life. Michigan State University scientists are using the technology to help identify possible osteoarthritis (OA) related movements in the hands of patients. This method could detect arthritis earlier and prevent the patients from losing some thumb function and movement.  WATCH VIDEO.
Should We Prepare Now for the Next Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic might have just been a trial run for the next virus threat. Coronaviruses have been around for decades, but it was the COVID-19 pandemic that many of us heard about coronaviruses for the first time. The strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is just one of many in this family of viruses. There are many others, and some can be deadly, like SARS or MERS, but others cause simple variations of the common cold. Until recently, their existence was generally ignored. WATCH VIDEO.
Dumbbell-Shaped Holes Make Electronic Skin More Breathable

By Karen Kwon, Inside Science

New e-skin can withstand profuse sweating, resulting in more accurate readings of biomedical measurements.  The quest to track health information without drawing blood has inspired wearables like Fitbit and Apple Watch, but it's also pushing engineers to develop thin sensors that adhere to the skin like a bandage. Some of these devices can struggle to stay sticky, especially when faced with profuse sweating, but a group of engineers recently developed a new type of electronic skin, or e-skin, that can track vital signs and other information even during intense exercise. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Felice Frankel/MIT
Media rights: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Mask-Wearing Tackles Spread of COVID-19

Wearing masks for more than a year could have been a key factor in why many states can now lift mask wearing restrictions. Even as many states are starting to lift mask restrictions, research shows that the masks may have been one of the key factors to slowing the spread of the virus. Masks may again be instrumental in protecting against the spread of what's known as the virus' delta variant. Researchers examined high speed camera footage of people speaking to see how tiny particles move around people during conversations. WATCH VIDEO.
Humans Spared Worst of Volcanic Supereruption 74,000 Years Ago

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

New research shows the climate effects likely varied widely around the globe, with the Northern Hemisphere suffering the most. The largest volcanic eruption of the past 2 million years occurred roughly 74,000 years ago in what is now Indonesia. Called the Toba supereruption, its effects on the world -- and specifically, on human evolution -- have been hotly debated. Now scientists find that although the event likely caused severe global climate disruptions, humans were apparently sheltered from the worst effects. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: solarseven/Shutterstock
Failure to Flower Makes These Vegetables Grow in Fractals

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

New research uncovers the cellular basis of fractal patterns in and cauliflower. The spiraling cones of Romanesco heads look more like psychedelic works of art than like their more mundane cousin the cauliflower. Now scientists have found these complex fractal structures may be created from chain reactions that build stems on top of stems. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Topolszczak via Shutterstock
The Science Behind Baseball’s Sticky Pitching Problem

By Chris Gorski, Inside Science

Anatomy and biomechanics raise questions about whether strictly enforcing the game's rules could increase the risk of injuries. On June 15, Major League Baseball announced its plan to more aggressively enforce often-ignored rules prohibiting the use of foreign substances by pitchers. The league is now encouraging umpires to check pitchers frequently during games, especially for the presence of anything sticky on the players' hands or uniforms that might be used to help grip the ball. The league will eject and suspend players who violate those rules. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Christian Vidal via Shutterstock
Add a Dash of Science

Science and baking go hand in hand to make delicious treats even better. When a lot of people think of science, thoughts of laboratories, beakers, and safety goggles might come to mind. But give the kitchen in your house a second look the next time you are hunting for snacks. It may not look like a science lab, but the cooking and baking that goes on it has a lot of science going on. Things like the slightest temperature adjustment can have a huge impact and either enhance or destroy a batch of delicious cookies. WATCH VIDEO.
High Radiation, Low Gravitation: The Perils of a Trip to Mars

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Sunscreen and calcium supplements aren't enough to protect Mars-bound space travelers from radiation and a lack of gravity in outer space. Back in May, SpaceX launched its Starship SN15 prototype to about the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner before landing it safely. The company claims future versions of the rocket will be able to take 100 passengers at a time to the moon, and even Mars. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Aaron Chen via Flickr
Media rights: CC-BY 2.0
New Material Paves Way for Recovering Wasted Energy

By Meeri Kim, Inside Science

Researchers design and synthesize a material with very low thermal conductivity, which could be used to convert waste heat to electricity. A mind-boggling proportion of the world’s energy is lost as waste heat. Most gas-powered cars use less than 30% of the energy from fuel to move down the road. The vast majority of energy gets dissipated as heat, mostly due to inefficiencies while running the engine. About one-third of the energy consumed by industrial processes that occur at refineries, steel mills, and other sites is also squandered as lost heat.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: University of Liverpool
Tiny Microbes Make Big Impact on Climate Change

Scientists study how some microorganisms deep on the ocean floor affect our climate. A geobiologist at the California Institute of Technology researches teeny tiny microorganisms and how they interact with the environment. But the organisms she studies are not easy to find. They live deep down on the ocean floor. The microorganisms play a huge role in gobbling up methane, a greenhouse gas that gets trapped at the bottom of the ocean in the form of an ice-like substance. Those substances, called methane hydrates, dissolve when ocean temperature change.  WATCH VIDEO.
Boosting Digital Images with More True-to-Life Color

By Meeri Kim, Inside Science

A new approach to digitizing color could help improve the realism of cameras, displays and LED lighting.  When showing off vacation photos to a friend, how many times have you uttered the phrase "You really had to be there" or "It looked much better in person"? No matter how much smartphone cameras advance, digital photos often pale in comparison to the vibrant images before our eyes. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Susanne Nilsson via Flickr
Migraine Sufferers Get Dizzy on Virtual Roller Coasters

By Kate Gammon, Inside Science

Researchers use virtual-reality roller coasters to peer into the brains of people with migraine. Migraine headaches are not only incredibly common -- about 12% of the world’s population suffers from them -- but they also come with an array of baffling symptoms, including nausea, sensitivity to loud sounds and bright lights, and lightheadedness. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Oleksii Sidorov via Shutterstock
Underwater Noise Pollution Could Damage Crucial Ocean Plants

By Karen Kwon, Inside Science

First-of-its-kind study shows how human-generated sound could harm the ability of seagrass to store energy and detect gravity. Under the Mediterranean Sea lie meadows of Posidonia oceanica, a native seagrass species. It might not look like it’s doing much -- just swaying back and forth with the current -- but seagrass absorbs carbon dioxide, emits oxygen, protects coasts from erosion and provides habitat for fish.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Evarist González
Big Brains May Have Helped Birds Survive Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid

By Nala Rogers, Inside Science

A fossil skull from a bird that lived in the time of dinosaurs sheds light on how the ancestors of modern birds escaped extinction.  Just a few million years before an asteroid killed nearly all dinosaurs on Earth, a creature resembling a small albatross with teeth flew through the Cretaceous skies. The creature, known as Ichthyornis, is considered an early bird -- but not part of the lucky lineage that survived the mass extinction and gave rise to modern birds.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: C. R. Torres (Ohio University)
Vintage Artwork Fading? Add a Layer of Carbon Atoms for Protection

By Karen Kwon, Inside Science

A graphene layer shields an artwork against light, oxygen and moisture, and can be removed using an eraser. Flash photography, meet your match: graphene. "No Flash Photography" signs adorn museums and art galleries across the globe because excessive light can damage or destroy artwork. A team of European scientists has developed a way to use a layer of carbon atoms to protect colors in artworks from fading, and European museums are already showing interest in this new technique. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Festa via Shutterstock
Fossilized 'Dragon Man' Skull May Represent a New Lineage of Extinct Humans

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

The skull was found in China, and it belonged to a man who lived at the same time as Neanderthals and ancient Homo sapiens. A fossilized skull from China may belong to a new human lineage, new research suggests. Nicknamed "Dragon Man," this newly identified group may have had the largest skulls of any known extinct human lineage, and it may belong to a mysterious branch of humanity found across Asia and currently known only from teeth, bone scraps and DNA. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Xijun Ni
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