Astronomy

Supervoid: Astronomers Find Large ‘Hole’ in Universe

The supervoid. Image credit: István Szapudi et al.

An international team of astronomers led by Dr Istvan Szapudi of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy has discovered a large supervoid – a vast region roughly 1.8 billion light-years across in which the density of galaxies is much lower than usual in the known Universe – in the direction of an unusually cold area of the sky known as the Cold Spot. Map of the cosmic microwave...

Space Exploration

NASA’s Dawn Probe Sees North Pole of Ceres

This image shows the north pole of the dwarf planet Ceres as seen by the Dawn spacecraft on April 10, 2015. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has returned stunning new images of the sunlit north pole of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt. This image shows the north pole of the dwarf planet Ceres as seen by the Dawn spacecraft on April 10, 2015. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA. The new images were taken on April 10, 2015 from a distance of 33,000 km (21,000...

Archaeology

Israeli Archaeologists Unearth 3,400-Year-Old Egyptian Artifacts in Cave

Ring inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian warrior with a shield and sword. Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority, Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery.

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have found a large number of Egyptian artifacts and pottery vessels dating back to the Late Bronze Age (1500 BC) and the Iron Age (1000 BC) in a cave in the vicinity of Kibbutz Lahav, southern Israel. Ring inlaid with a seal depicting an Egyptian warrior with a shield and sword. Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority, Unit for the Prevention...

Paleontology

Prehistoric Bone-Devouring Osedax Worms Fed on Carcasses of Plesiosaurs

A close-up view of a male Osedax priapus. Scale bar - 0.3 mm. Image credit: Greg Rouse.

In a new paper in the journal Biology Letters, scientists reported fossil traces of Osedax – a genus of bone-devouring worms that both eat and inhabit dead whale skeletons and other bones on the sea floor – from 100 million-year-old plesiosaur and sea turtle bones. CT reconstruction of 100-million-year-ol sea turtle bones. Arrow indicates borings created by an ancient Osedax worm. Scale...

Biology

Vampire Squid Possesses Unique Reproductive Strategy

The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis). Image credit: MBARI.

According to a new study published in the journal Current Biology, the vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) has a reproductive strategy unique among soft-bodied cephalopods. The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis). Image credit: MBARI. A ‘living fossil,’ the vampire squid inhabits the deep waters of all the world’s ocean basins at depths from 500 to 3,000 m. The species is a soft-bodied,...

Physics

Experiments Show What Happens Below Ground When Meteorite Strikes Earth

An image shows a comet striking coastal Yucatan, forming the giant Chicxulub impact crater and causing the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs (Don Davis / NASA)

Scientists led by Dr Abram Clark of Duke University and Yale University developed a novel technique which enabled them to simulate accurately high-speed meteorite impacts. This image shows an asteroid hitting Earth. Image credit: Don Davis / NASA. To simulate a meteorite slamming into soil or sand, Dr Clark and his colleagues from the Duke University’s Department of Physics & Center for Nonlinear...

Medicine

Cigarette Smoke Makes Methicillin-Resistant Staphilococcus aureus More Aggressive

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, yellow. Credit: NIAID.

A new study, led by Dr Laura Crotty Alexander of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California San Diego, shows that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus exposed to cigarette smoke become even more resistant to killing by the immune system. Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, yellow. Credit: NIAID. “We already know...

Genetics

Mountain Gorillas Reveal Their Genetic Secrets

The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). Image credit: Gavin Langille / CC BY-SA 2.0.

A team of genetic scientists, co-led by Dr Chris Tyler-Smith of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Dr Aylwyn Scally of the University of Cambridge, UK, has sequenced the whole genome of the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) and compared it with the genomes of three other Gorilla subspecies – the western lowland gorilla (G. gorilla gorilla), the Cross River gorilla (G. g. diehli),...

Geology

Geologists Discover New Layer in Earth’s Mantle

A simplified image of a slab from one of Earth’s tectonic plates sinking through the upper mantle above, through the boundary between the upper and lower mantle 410 miles deep, then stalling and pooling at a depth of 930 miles, where the new study suggests the existence of an extremely viscous layer in Earth. Image credit: Lowell Miyagi / University of Utah.

New research led by Dr Hauke Marquardt of the University of Bayreuth, Germany, suggests the existence of a previously unknown superviscous layer inside our planet: part of the lower mantle where the rock gets 3 times stiffer. Such a layer may explain why tectonic plate slabs seem to pool at 930 miles (1,500 km) under Indonesia and South America’s Pacific coast. A simplified image of a slab from...

Other Sciences

Scientists Create Artificial Photosynthesis System

The artificial photosynthesis system has four general components: (i) harvesting solar energy; (ii) generating reducing equivalents; (iii) reducing carbon dioxide to biosynthetic intermediates, and (iv) producing value-added chemicals.

A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute, has created a hybrid system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that mimics the natural photosynthetic process. The artificial photosynthesis system has four general components: (i) harvesting solar energy; (ii) generating reducing equivalents;...