SciNews Thursday, March 31, 2016


Female animals avoid harassment by looking drab; certain gut bacteria vital for healthy growth; slug helps fight icy buildups; wine quality affected by climate change; 2 supernovae caught exploding; 2 small comets slipped by earth last week; eccentric planet flashes astronomers – just a few of the themes in today’s eclectic collection of SciNews.  Share these stories with your students and get them excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Female animals look drab to avoid sexual harassment, study shows. Science Daily

In many species males attract the sexual attention of females with distinctive plumage, markings or displays of some type. But males can also be choosy about their mates, so the lack of ornamental sexual traits in females remains puzzling.  Read more…

Missing gut bacteria linked to poor nutrition in children. Science News for Students

Children with malnutrition might be missing the right mix of germs.

Three new studies suggest that certain bacteria in the gut may be vital for healthy growth. They also might help kids bounce back from malnutrition. The studies were reported February 18.

Malnutrition occurs when the body gets too few calories or lacks the right mix of nutrients. In children, it can severely stunt growth and affect whether they develop normally. Each year, malnutrition plays a role in the deaths of more than one million children. Those who survive may be shorter, face delayed development of their brains and suffer problems with their immune systems. Even after these kids start to get enough food, many will never fully recover.  Read more…

Chemistry

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Goo-oozing deicer protects surfaces. Science News for Students

Ice and snow can cause big problems when they stick to surfaces in cold weather. These frosty materials can obscure road signs, for example. They can pile up to dangerous heights on roofs, adding tons of weight. Or, they can stick to aircraft wings and affect the amount of lift a plane can generate. Now, researchers have developed a coating that might fight icy buildups on a wide range of surfaces. The coating works unlike any other. And it was inspired by the slime-oozing habits of a common garden pest.  Read more…

Wine quality subject to climate change. Science News

Be wary, wine lovers: Climate change can muck with your merlots. By tracking the timing of French and Swiss grape harvests from 1600 through 2007, scientists have discovered that the link between high temperatures and drought conditions — a combination crucial for fine wine production — has broken down since 1980.  Read more…

Physics

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Astrophysicists catch two supernovae at the moment of explosion. Science Daily

Two supernovae have been caught in the act of exploding by an international team of astrophysicists. Stars 10 to 20 times the mass of our sun often puff up to supergiants before ending their lives as supernovae. These stars are so large that Earth’s orbit would easily fit inside such a star.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Two chunks of the same comet buzzing Earth this week. Science News

Two small comets — or rather two chunks of the same comet — will slip by Earth on March 21 and March 22, each on a different side of the planet. Comet 252P/LINEAR passed at a distance of about 5.2 million kilometers (13.5 times as far as the moon) around 8:14 a.m. Eastern on Monday, while comet P/2016 BA14 (PANSTARRS) will fly by at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, coming no closer than about 3.5 million kilometers, just over nine times the distance to the moon. Neither comet poses any danger to Earth.  Read more…

Most eccentric planet ever known flashes astronomers with reflected light. Science Daily

A team of astronomers has spotted an extrasolar planet that boasts the most eccentric orbit ever seen. The planet moves in a flattened ellipse, traveling a long path far from its star and then making a fast slingshot around the star at its closest approach. Researchers detected a ‘flash’ of starlight bouncing off the planet’s atmosphere as it made its closest orbital approach to its star. Read more… 

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