First Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved in Amber

December 9, 2016

The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur, including bones, soft tissue, and even feathers, has been found preserved in amber.

First Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved in Amber.jpg

While individual dinosaur-era feathers have been found in amber, and evidence for feathered dinosaurs is captured in fossil impressions, this is the first time that scientists are able to clearly associate well-preserved feathers with a dinosaur, and in turn gain a better understanding of the evolution and structure of dinosaur feathers.

The semitranslucent mid-Cretaceous amber sample, roughly the size and shape of a dried apricot, captures one of the earliest moments of differentiation between the feathers of birds of flight and the feathers of dinosaurs.

Based on the structure of the tail, researchers believe it belongs to a juvenile coelurosaur, part of a group of theropod dinosaurs that includes everything from tyrannosaurs to modern birds.

Learn more here or here.

Don’t Flush Sodium Down The Toilet

November 22, 2016

Sodium reacts strongly with water, according to the following chemical reaction:

2Na(s) + 2H₂O → 2NaOH(aq) + H₂(g)

A colourless solution is formed, consisting of strongly alkalic sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and hydrogen gas. This is an exothermic reaction. Sodium metal gets hot in the process and may ignite and burn with a characteristic orange flame. The hydrogen gas released during the burning process also reacts strongly with oxygen in the air.

So don’t try this at home …

Iguana vs Snakes

November 9, 2016

In the tradition of ‘Killer Whale vs Seal‘, ‘Lion vs Buffalo vs Crocodile‘, ‘Shark vs Octopus‘, ’Leopard vs Porcupine‘, ‘Hornets vs Honey bees‘, ’Salmon vs Grizzly Bear‘, ‘Hippopotamus vs Crocodile’, ‘Polar Bear vs Walrus Colony’, ‘Giraffe vs Giraffe‘, ‘Caterpillar vs Frog‘, ‘Frog vs Poison Newt’, ‘Rubber bands vs Water Melon’,  ‘Sarcastic fringehead vs Sarcastic fringehead’, ‘Jaguar vs Crocodile‘, ‘Snake vs Crocodile‘, ‘Centipede vs Snake‘, ‘Moray Eel vs White Tip Reef Shark‘, ‘Rabbit vs Snake‘, ‘Octopus vs Octopus‘ and ‘Rat vs Snake’ here is ‘Iguana vs Snakes’:

What amazing footage! For a behind the scenes look go here.

Watch Human Population Growth Through Time

November 6, 2016

It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer babies on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?

Every 50 cigarettes smoked cause one DNA mutation per lung cell

November 4, 2016

There are heaps of reasons not to smoke cigarettes and here is another …

We can now precisely count how many cancer-related DNA mutations accumulate in smokers’ organs over time.

On average, there is one DNA mutation per lung cell for every 50 cigarettes smoked, according to a new analysis. People who smoke a pack of 20 a day for a year generate 150 mutations per lung cell, 97 per larynx cell, 39 per pharynx cell, 18 per bladder cell and six per liver cell.

Studies have previously linked tobacco smoking with at least 17 classes of cancer, but this is the first time researchers have been able to quantify the molecular damage inflicted on DNA.

The team hopes their findings will deter people from taking up smoking and debunk the myth that social smoking is harmless. Every cigarette has the potential to cause genetic mutations!

Smoking and Lung cancer correlation

Learn more here.

Earth’s vertebrates decline 58% in past four decades

October 29, 2016

From 1970 to 2012 there has been a 58 per cent decline in monitored vertebrate populations, with an average annual decline of two per cent per year. Terrestrial vertebrate populations have dwindled 38 per cent since 1970, marine vertebrates are down 36 per cent and populations of freshwater aquatic vertebrates have shrunk by a staggering 81 per cent.

Activities such as deforestation, poaching and human-induced climate change are in large part to blame for the decline. If the trend continues, then by 2020 the world will have lost two-thirds of its vertebrate biodiversity, according to the Living Planet Report 2016. There is no sign yet that this rate will decrease!

vertebrate population decline.jpg

Sadly all life on Earth depends on rich biodiversity to survive so these are really troubling figures for all life!

Learn more here or here.

What you need to know about CRISPR

October 21, 2016

Should we bring back the wooly mammoth? Or edit a human embryo? Or wipe out an entire species that we consider harmful? The genome-editing technology CRISPR has made extraordinary questions like these legitimate — but how does it work? Scientist and community lab advocate Ellen Jorgensen is on a mission to explain the myths and realities of CRISPR, hype-free, to the non-scientists among us.

Ten times more galaxies in the universe than previously estimated

October 15, 2016

Since the mid-1990s, the working estimate for the number of galaxies in the Universe has been around 120 billion. That number was based largely on a 1996 study called Hubble Deep Field … Researchers pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at a small region of space for a total of ten days. Astrophysicists then counted the galaxies within that narrow field of view and extrapolated the number to the full sky to get to the 120 billion figure.


The Hubble Deep Field

More recent deep-field studies conducted using Hubble and other telescopes means we now know that the observable Universe contains about two trillion galaxies — more than ten times as many as previously estimated.

Considering that the galaxy we live in, the Milky Way, contains around 100 billion or more stars we can safely assume that the number of stars in the entire universe is a very large number indeed!

Learn more here or here.

Let’s teach for mastery — not test scores

September 11, 2016

Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven’t always grasped the basics? Yes, it’s complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.

Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever

August 27, 2016

The future is going to be genetically modified!

That means the future could be disease-free with babies being designed in labs by parents who live in a world where ageing has stopped all thanks to genetic engineering. Or the future might be something else entirely with state-mandated genetic engineering to turn citizens into super soldiers. Who knows.