red dwarf

Cool science from the week of October 6, 2014

 Science for imagination  Comments Off on Cool science from the week of October 6, 2014
Oct 092014
 

One of the reasons I started this blog is to show just how little we really know about the universe we inhabit. And it’s so much fun to fill those voids of our knowledge with fictional possibilities!

Mysteries that scientists have recently discovered:

The disappearance – and reappearance – of the feature in Ligeia Mare (a sea on Saturn’s moon, Titan).

The little black hole that could. A.K.A. hungry hungry black hole.

The loss of ice sheets in Antarctica causes changes in local gravity.

How can a dwarf star give off solar flares 10,000 times stronger than our much larger sun?

Why does this little cat-like carnivore (called a genet) ride around on much larger herbivores’ backs? And why does it have its own Twitter account?

Genet-rhino_3_watermark-1024x789

 

New theories to answer old mysteries:

What caused the dark spot on the moon?

How is aging related to cognitive decline?

Why doesn’t the naked mole rat get cancer?

nakedmolerat

Actual answers to old mysteries:

What happened to the Franklin expedition – where two ships and their crews completely disappeared? Well, one of the ships was found where local oral history said it would be. This isn’t the full answer, but it’s a step on the way.

We’ve watched chimpanzees learn to use tools in a controlled, captive environment, but were uncertain as to how this occurred in the wild. We now have evidence that chimpanzees learn new things and pass them on to others in the wild.

Darwin theorized that species travelled over oceans using pieces of vegetation, icebergs, or hitchhiking on other species. This theory – called ‘jump dispersal’ was not given much credit – until now.

In the 1930s, Ettore Majorana calculated that a particle could be both matter and anti-matter at the same time – and still be stable. While the math was impeccable, the idea seemed odd, since matter and antimatter usually destroy each other in a burst of energy. However, this particle has now been observed at the end of an atom-thick wire.

What lies at the bottom of the ocean? Scientists have used gravitational field data to map the ocean floor.

seafloormap

Ain’t science cool?