Astronomy

Astronomers Capture Cosmic ‘Prawn’

This image snapped by the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-m MPG/ESO telescope reveals a detailed view of part of the Prawn Nebula, also known as Gum 56. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula. Image credit: ESO.

Using the 2.2-m MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, astronomers have captured an image of part of the gigantic nebula Gum 56. This image snapped by the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-m MPG/ESO telescope reveals a detailed view of part of the Prawn Nebula, also known as Gum 56. It shows clumps of hot new-born stars nestled in among the clouds that make up the nebula. Image credit:...

Space Exploration

Comet Hitchhiker: New Concept for Orbiting, Landing on Comets and Asteroids

Comet Hitchhiker is a concept for orbiting and landing on comets and asteroids. The idea involves using a carbon nanotube tether to hitchhike on to a comet as it flies by. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornelius Dammrich.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have devised a new way to get into orbit and land on Solar System’s small bodies. Comet Hitchhiker is a concept for orbiting and landing on comets and asteroids. The idea involves using a carbon nanotube tether to hitchhike on to a comet as it flies by. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornelius Dammrich. “Hitchhiking a celestial body...

Paleontology

Study Reveals Important Information about Evolutionary Origin of Turtle Skull

Life restoration of Eunotosaurus africanus. Image credit: Smokeybjb / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Paleontologists have determined that Eunotosaurus africanus – a 260 million year old fossil reptile from the Karoo Basin of South Africa and a relative of modern turtles – provides a long awaited glimpse into the origins of these magnificent reptiles. Life restoration of Eunotosaurus africanus. Image credit: Smokeybjb / CC BY-SA 3.0. While Eunotosaurus africanus lacks the iconic turtle...

Biology

Study: Earth Has More Than 3 Trillion Trees

Scientists estimate that about 1.39 trillion trees exist in tropical and subtropical forests, 0.74 trillion in boreal regions and 0.61 trillion in temperate regions.

According to a new study published today in Nature, there are 3,041 billion trees on our planet, but over 15 billion trees are cut down each year, and the global number of trees has fallen by 46 percent since the start of human civilization. Scientists estimate that about 1.39 trillion trees exist in tropical and subtropical forests, 0.74 trillion in boreal regions and 0.61 trillion in temperate...

Physics

Phagraphene: Scientists Discover New Structural Variant of Carbon

Structure of phagraphene. Image credit: Zhenhai Wang et al.

A new carbon allotrope, phagraphene (standing for penta-hexa-hepta-graphene), has been discovered by an international team of physicists. It consists of penta-, hexa- and heptagonal carbon rings, and is a ‘patchwork’ analogue of graphene. Structure of phagraphene. Image credit: Zhenhai Wang et al. Two-dimensional materials have attracted attention of scientists for many years. The first of these...

Medicine

Beta-Carbolines Could Reduce Alcoholics’ Impulse to Drink

Beta-carboline compounds offer great promise for the treatment of alcoholism. Image credit: Imagens Evangelicas / CC BY 2.0.

A new animal study is offering hope that a class of compounds called beta-carbolines could treat alcoholism without many of the unwanted side effects caused by current therapies. Beta-carboline compounds offer great promise for the treatment of alcoholism. Image credit: Imagens Evangelicas / CC BY 2.0. “Alcoholism is a major problem in the United States. Alcohol abuse costs almost $220 billion...

Genetics

Scientists Sequence Genome of California Two-Spot Octopus

The California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). Image credit: Michael LaBarbera.

An international team of genetic researchers from Japan and the United States has sequenced and analyzed the genome of the common California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides), making it the first cephalopod ever to be fully sequenced. The California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). Image credit: Michael LaBarbera. The team, led by Dr Clifton Ragsdale from the University of Chicago and...

Geology

Earth’s Mineralogy is Unique in Cosmos, Scientists Say

Earth as seen on July 6, 2015 from a distance of one million miles by NASA’s EPIC camera on the DSCOVR satellite. Image credit: NOAA / NASA / U.S. Air Force.

The mineral diversity of Earth is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the cosmos. That’s according to a group of researchers, led by Dr Robert Hazen at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The team also predicts that our planet has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals. According to Dr Hazen and co-authors, most of Earth’s 5,000 mineral species are rare, known from only a few localities....

Other Sciences

Human Body Has Gone through Four Main Stages of Evolution, Scientists Say

Sima de los Huesos hominins lived in what is now Spain about 400,000 years ago. Image credit: © Kennis & Kennis / Madrid Scientific Films.

The evolution of the human body’s size and shape has gone through four stages, says an international group of anthropologists from the United States, Spain, France, and China. Sima de los Huesos hominins lived in what is now Spain about 400,000 years ago. Image credit: © Kennis & Kennis / Madrid Scientific Films. The team, directed by Prof Juan Luis Arsuaga of the Complutense University of...