SciNews Nov 29, 2015


Python Thanksgiving, Canuckosaur?, Ultralight gold, and Mars with ring? – just a few of the cool stories in today’s eclectic collection of SciNews that are guaranteed to get your students excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

For a python, every meal is like Thanksgiving. Science News

For millions of Americans, Thanksgiving is an excuse to gorge on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, despite the warnings that overeating, even for a day, can be incredibly unhealthy. But for a Burmese python, enormous meals are the norm. These huge snakes — they can reach up to 6.7 meters in length — may go weeks or months without eating, so they have to make their meals count. And they have many adaptations that let them consume quantities of food that would be impossible for a human to take in.  Read more…

 

Canuckosaur! First Canadian ‘dinosaur’ becomes Dimetrodon borealis. Science Daily

A ‘dinosaur’ fossil originally discovered on Prince Edward Island, Canada, has been shown to have steak knife-like teeth, and researchers have changed its name to Dimetrodon borealis — marking the first occurrence of a Dimetrodon fossil in Canada. Read more…

 

 

Chemistry

13698187_s from 123rf

Some 3-D printing can leave toxic taint.  Science News for Students

Today, it seems that three-dimensional, or 3-D, printers are everywhere. People use them in labs, schools —even at home. Anyone can draw an object using a computer program and then print it out of plastic. But some newly printed plastics may emerge with traces of dangerous chemicals, a new study finds. The good news: There also appears to be a cure for the problem.

Shirin Oskui is a bioengineer at the University of California, Riverside. The lab where she works develops tools to measure very small things. She needed a way to measure tiny zebrafish eggs and newly hatched baby fish. So Oskui designed and made a tool using a 3-D printer. Read more…

 

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air. Science Daily

Researchers have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye. There are many possible applications. Read more…

 

 

Physics

18685938_s from 123rf

Bionic Roses are Literal Power Plants. Discover

Researchers have created simple electronic components inside the stems and leaves of living roses, using the rose’s own vascular system to produce working wires and even simple display devices.

By adding a specialized polymer to roses’ xylem, researchers electronically “wired” roses without disrupting the plant’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Though plants with built-in electronic circuitry are still in their early days of development, researchers envision a day when these cyborg plants give feedback about their health and even display that information on their leaves — like a simple screen — for farmers to read Read more…

 

Don’t flip out: Earth’s magnetic poles aren’t about to switch. Science News

Earth is not heading toward a doomsday reversal of its magnetic field, new research assures.

The planet’s magnetic field is about 10 percent wimpier today than when physicists began keeping tabs on it in the 1800s. In the geologic past, such weakening preceded geomagnetic reversals —swaps of the north and south magnetic poles. Such reversals temporarily make the planet more vulnerable to charged particles blasted off the sun that can disrupt power grids and disable satellites. Read more…

 

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Mars will get ring like Saturn, scientists predict. CBC News

Moon Phobos is making a death spiral that will result in it getting torn to pieces, study suggests. The Red Planet could find itself wearing a stylish new accessory in tens of millions of years. A ring like Saturn’s will likely form from the shattered remains of Mars’s moon Phobos when that moon breaks apart in about 20 to 40 million years, predict planetary scientists in a new paper published Monday. The ring is expected to last for up to 100 million years. Read more…

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