Lab-grown guts, shriek physics, poison chemistry and what’s the latest news from the recent Pluto flyby – just what your students want to hear and get revved up about science. This eclectic collection of current science news stories is brought to you by STAOBlog.
SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.
Lab-grown guts show promise in mice and dogs. Science
David Hackam spends much of his work day at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center removing blackened sections of dead intestine from sick babies. But someday the pediatric surgeon may have a way to restore ravaged intestines—thanks to his work growing the organ in the lab. Starting with stem cells from the small intestines of human infants and mice, Hackam and his colleagues have for the first time grown intestinal linings on gut-shaped scaffolds that could one day treat bowel disorders like necrotizing enterocolitis and Crohn’s disease. They have found that the tissue and scaffolding are not rejected, but instead readily assimilate in lab animals. Most strikingly, the scaffold allowed dogs to heal from damage to the colon lining, restoring healthy bowel function. Read more…
Ecotourism could bring new dangers to animals. Science News for Students
Ecotourism seems like it should be a win-win. Visitors get to experience exciting, often exotic locales and see creatures in their natural habitats. The money raised through these visits goes to local communities and to preserving ecosystems. But what if nature tourism is hurting the very animals we want to protect? Read more…
Cool Jobs: Finding new uses for nature’s poisons. Science News for Students
This is one in a series on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics made possible with generous support from Alcoa Foundation. If poison dart frogs are what they eat, then the colorful amphibians are definitely poison.
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced by a living thing. Certain species of plants, fungi and animals may produce toxins. So can bacteria. (When a toxin is injected, through a bite, sting or other means, it is called venom.) Poison dart frogs absorb toxins from the ants, millipedes, beetles and mites that they eat. The frogs then secrete those toxins from their skin. That protects them from getting eaten. Some of these rainforest frogs are so toxic that just touching them can bring death. Read more…
Shriek Science: Simple Physics Powers Extreme Roller Coasters. Scientific American
he fastest, tallest and longest dive coaster, on which amusement park thrill seekers can experience free fall, is set to open next summer at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Valravn is designed to take riders 20 stories up to a 66-meter peak from which they plummet at a 90-degree angle and feel weightless. That first drop generates sufficient energy to propel the coaster car throughout the rest of the ride. Read more…
Earth and Space Science
Mars once hosted lakes, flowing water. Science Mag
Last week, NASA announced they’d spotted occasional signs of flowing water on Mars. These briny flows, discerned from orbit, originated on the steep slopes of valleys or craters at four widely scattered sites in the planet’s southern hemisphere. Now, a comprehensive analysis of images gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover provides the strongest evidence yet that Mars once was warm and wet enough to have lakes and flowing water year-round and for extended periods of time—possibly for millions of years. The findings hint that the Red Planet once had a climate hospitable enough for microbial life to develop and evolve. Read more…
Blue sky and red ice at Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft discovers during flyby. Globe and Mail
The sky over Pluto may not be sunny but it’s undoubtedly blue.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft discovered Pluto’s blue sky during the historic flyby of the icy dwarf planet in July. The images of Pluto’s atmospheric haze were beamed down last week and released by NASA on Thursday.
The particles in the atmospheric haze are actually red and grey, according to scientists. But the way the particles scatter blue light is what has everyone excited about the dwarf planet orbiting on the far fringes of our solar system, a twilight zone known more formally as the Kuiper Belt. Read more…