SciNews Sunday, April 3, 2016


Mother’s microbes important for newborns; the ‘hobbit’ was a separate species of human; eggshells recycled into packaging; hydrogen-fuelled cars coming soon; Tesla’s Model 3 unveiled; Antarctic ice melting faster than expected – 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

Should C-section babies get wiped down with vagina microbes? Science News

Bacteria is back, baby. After decades of gobbling antibiotics and overzealous hand sanitizing, it’s now clear that the bacteria that live in and on our bodies can help keep us healthy. That realization is what led scientists to rub brand-spanking-new babies with fluid from the mothers’ vaginas.  Read more…

The ‘hobbit’ was a separate species of human, new dating reveals. Science

In 2003, scientists made a startling find in a remote cave on the Indonesian island of Flores: The skull and skeleton of an adult female hominin, a group consisting of modern humans and extinct human species, who stood only about a meter tall. That discovery sparked a fierce debate about whether the hominin—officially dubbed Homo floresiensis but often called the “hobbit”—was a separate species or a diseased modern human. Now, many of the same scientists who made the discovery have radically revised their estimate of the fossils’ age, based on an exhaustive new analysis of the cave’s geology. Instead of living 18,000 years ago, as they originally reported, the hobbit lived between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago—some 10,000 years before H. sapiens arrived in the region.  Read more…

Chemistry

13698187_s from 123rf

Eggshells help hatch a new idea for packaging. Science News for Students

An old proverb says you’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. Most people then toss those eggshells out. Indeed, a lot of eggshells end up in landfills, observes Boniface Tiimob. He’s a materials scientist and graduate student at Tuskegee University in Alabama. But now, he says, there’s a promising new use for that waste. Those shells can be recycled into packaging for more eggs or other goods.   Read more…

Hydrogen-fuelled cars back on the horizon as technology improves, costs drop. CBC

Automakers and fuel cell developers say the hydrogen-powered age is almost here — again.

Hyundai now has a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle available in Canada, and Toyota wants to introduce theirs here too, while Canadian fuel cell developers that include Ballard Power Systems and Hydrogenics have been busy putting their product in everything from trains to buses and forklifts.  Read more…

Physics

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Tesla’s Model 3 aims to take luxury electric car to the mass market. CBC

It is a make or break moment for Tesla. At 8:30 p.m. PT tonight, the revolutionary electric car maker will unveil its newest offering, the Model 3.

But CEO Elon Musk is selling more than just a car. Musk hopes to usher in the age of affordable, mass market electric cars.

Here’s what we know.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Antarctic ice may melt more quickly than expected. CBC

Warmer air, less frigid water and gravity may combine to make parts of Antarctica’s western ice sheet melt far faster than scientists had thought, raising sea levels much more than expected by the end of the century, according to a new study.

New physics-based computer simulations forecast dramatic increases in melting in the vulnerable western edge of the continent. In a worst-case scenario, that could raise sea levels in 2100 by 46 to 86 centimetres (18 to 34 inches) more than an international panel of climate scientists predicted just three years ago.  Read more…

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