SciNews Sept 21, 2015

Arranged bird marriages, hazards of student vaping, one step closer to a cloaking device, the importance of retractions science publications and more…This eclectic collection of current science news stories is brought to you by STAOBlog.

SciNews is published every Monday. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Arranged Bird Marriages Are Less Successful Than True Love. Discover

The Beatles famously taught us that love is all we need, and that’s appears to also be true for zebra finch families.

On paper, reproduction is pretty simple: Find the partner with the best genes and make lots of babies. But we humans know that there’s a lot more to finding “the one” than simply a good set of genes. Read more …


Evolution caught red-handed. Science News

Researchers have caught fruit fly evolution in flagrante delicto.

More specifically, in flagrante delicto Y, a newly described gene on the fruit fly Y chromosome. The gene appears to have been copied onto the sex chromosome from another fly chromosome around 2 million years ago, scientists report September 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Flagrante delicto Y is 98 percent identical to the gene from which it was copied, and the researchers believe that the new gene has a similar function: helping organize cells’ genetic material. Unlike its predecessor, flagrante delicto Y is expressed mainly in the testes. Read more …


More data link vaping to smoking. Science News for Students

Last month, a study highlighted the potential dangers of using electronic cigarettes, or “vaping.” It showed that Los Angeles high school students who vaped were more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes than were kids who didn’t. Now, a second study comes to a similar conclusion.

Brian Primack is a doctor and researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania. He led the new study. He and his colleagues followed nearly 700 people from the United States for a year. All were 16 to 26 years old at the start of the study. And as with the L.A. study, he notes, the new one showed “young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely than [non-vapers] to progress to regular cigarette smoking.”  Read more …



13698187_s from 123rf

Link between air pollution, increased deaths and increased deaths from heart disease affirmed. Science Daily

In what is believed to be the largest, most detailed study of its kind in the United States, scientists have confirmed that tiny chemical particles in the air we breathe are linked to an overall increase in risk of early death. Read more …


Is It Safe To Drink Deionized Water? About Chemistry

Question: Is it safe to drink deionized water or DI water?

Answer: It’s usually okay to drink a small amount of deionized water, but there are several reasons why it would unsafe to drink a large volume of DI or to drink deionized water as your own form of water. Read more …



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Retractions: Righting the wrongs of science.  Science News for Students

If the results from an experiment look too good to be true, look again.

Those are wise words to remember. Consider, for example, a recent case of what looked like a breakthrough in treating the deadly virus HIV. The findings turned out to be bogus. All it took was a second look.

A study reporting success with the vaccine was published — then later retracted. When a journal retracts a paper, the study is removed from the body of scientific evidence. It means the study is so flawed that it never should have been published in the first place. Read more …


Making 3-D objects disappear: Ultrathin invisibility cloak created. Science Daily

Researchers have devised an ultra-thin invisibility ‘skin’ cloak that can conform to the shape of an object and conceal it from detection with visible light. Although this cloak is only microscopic in size, the principles behind the technology should enable it to be scaled-up to conceal macroscopic items as well. Read more …


Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Newly Discovered “Superhenge” Monument Dwarfs Nearby Stonehenge. Discover

It’s hard to fathom, but Stonehenge, one of the world’s most iconic wonders, is really just the figurative opening act to a much larger show.

Five years ago, researchers from the University of Bradford starting probing the dirt of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, England, with remote-sensing instruments to build a map of what’s buried beneath. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has already revealed hundreds of previously unidentified ancient features underfoot, and on Monday the team announced another: a super-sized version of Stonehenge buried just 2 miles away from the iconic ancient site. Read more …

China says it plans to attempt first-ever landing of lunar probe on the moon’s far side. Globe and Mail

China’s increasingly ambitious space program plans to attempt the first-ever landing of a lunar probe on the moon’s far side, a leading engineer said.

The Chang’e 4 mission is planned for sometime before 2020, Zou Yongliao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ moon exploration department told state broadcaster CCTV in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. Read more …

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