SciNews Thursday, April 14, 2016


Humans spread like weeds in South America; polar bear problem growing; some spiders like veggies; the mysteries of Zika; soils could help eliminate greenhouse gases; world’s fastest electron diffraction photos; black holes everywhere – 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

Humans spread through South America like an invasive species. Science

It took humans a long time to reach South America. But once they got there, they spread like weeds—literally. In a new study, researchers tallied up 1147 archaeological sites that had been radiocarbon-dated to between 14,000 years ago (right around the earliest known settlements in South America) and 2000 years ago. By mapping those sites, the scientists can see where people lived and when.  Read more…

Nunavut’s polar bear problem growing in Hudson Bay communities. CBC

The hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, says it has a serious polar bear problem and is looking for help by reaching out to other coastal communities along Hudson Bay.

Last week representatives from the hamlet attended a workshop in Churchill, Man., to learn from experts on polar bear-human conflicts. This was the first time that people from Nunavut, northern Manitoba and northern Quebec came together to address this issue.  Read more…

Spiders eat insects — and sometimes veggies. Science News for Students

Spiders eat insects. That’s why some of us are reluctant to kill the spiders we find in our homes. We figure they’ll eat the critters we really don’t want around. But a new study reveals that a spider’s diet can be far more diverse than what many of us learned in school. Many spiders, for instance, have a taste for plants.

Martin Nyffeler studies spiders at the University of Basel in Switzerland. He had seen scattered reports of plant-eating spiders in science journals for years. “I always found this topic very intriguing,” he says, “since I am a vegetarian myself.”  Read more…

Chemistry

13698187_s from 123rf

Five things to know about Zika. Science News

The mysteries of the Zika virus are slowly but surely succumbing to the scientific method. Last week, scientists revealed the virus’ structure, gleaned further insight into its ties to the birth defect microcephaly and found out just how little some people seem to know about Zika. Public health researchers at Harvard University released the results of a poll related to Zika awareness on March 29, and lots of respondents flunked. In a survey of 1,275 adults, 23 percent were unaware of Zika’s association with microcephaly and 42 percent did not know the virus could be transmitted sexually.  Read more…

Earth’s soils could play key role in locking away greenhouse gases. Science Daily

The world’s soils could store an extra eight billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, helping to limit the impacts of climate change, research suggests.  Read more…

Physics

18685938_s from 123rf

World’s fastest electron diffraction snapshots of atomic motions in gases. Science Daily

Scientists have made a significant advance toward making movies of extremely fast atomic processes with potential applications in energy production, chemistry, medicine, materials science and more. Using a superfast, high-resolution “electron camera,” a new instrument for ultrafast electron diffraction (UED), researchers have captured the world’s fastest UED images of nitrogen molecules rotating in a gas, with a record shutter speed of 100 quadrillionths of a second.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Supermassive black holes may be lurking everywhere in the universe. Science Daily

Surprise discovery of 17-billion-solar-mass black hole in sparse area of local universe

One of the largest supermassive black holes on record has been discovered in an unexpected place: a relatively sparse region of the local universe where massive galaxies — the typical home of these huge black holes — are few and far between. According new research, there could be many more such black holes — quiescent quasars — hiding in the universe’s deserts. This one may be or once was a binary black hole.  Read more…

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