SciNews, Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dark snakes warmer; ordinary people finding fossils; Alzheimer’s culprit fights other diseases; tree vapours can cool climate; batteries might last forever; dust creates deserts in sky; fewer habitable planets because of heat – 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

Snakes go dark to soak in the sun. Science News for Students

PHOENIX, Ariz. — In the southern United States, snakes can be vibrant and bright. In the North, they tend to be dark and drab. A dark coat may seem a bit depressing. It may, however, help northern snakes soak up heat from the sun more quickly than their southern kin, a teen finds. And a quick solar heating could prove an advantage in colder climes.

Gianna Fantell, 15, presented the results of her serpentine research, here, at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Created by Society for Science & the Public and sponsored by Intel, the 2016 competition, last week, brought together more than 1,750 high school students from 75 countries to share their science projects.  Read more…

Amazing fossils found by ordinary people thrill scientists. CBC

A new species of flightless bird was found on a Vancouver Island beach by a young girl walking with her father and brother. A giant trilobite was discovered beside a Toronto creek by a couple of teenage boys. A new, ancient reptile was found by a 9-year-old boy in P.E.I.

And just last week, a new horned dinosaur found by a man in Montana was confirmed as a new species that will go on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature.  Read more…

Alzheimer’s culprit may fight other diseases. Science News

A notorious Alzheimer’s disease villain may also be a germ-busting superhero. Amyloid-beta gums up the brains of people with Alzheimer’s but also takes out dangerous brain invaders, scientists report May 25 in Science Translational Medicine.  Read more…


13698187_s from 123rf

Climate-cooling aerosols can form from tree vapors. Science News

The cooling effect of pollution may have been exaggerated.

Fossil fuel burning spews sulfuric acid into the air, where it can form airborne particles that seed clouds and cool Earth’s climate. But that’s not the only way these airborne particles can form, three new studies suggest. Tree vapors can turn into cooling airborne particles, too.  Read more…


18685938_s from 123rf

Nanowires could lead to super-long-lived battery. Science News for Students

Your smartphone has a problem. It will last only as long as the rechargeable battery housed inside it. After about three years, what is inside that battery may have degraded so much that it can’t hold a charge anymore. And since it’s too expensive to replace, people end up buying a new phone when the old one’s battery dies. But new research might help extend the life of such batteries, perhaps almost forever.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

Dust creates deserts in the sky. Science News for Students

A line of four trucks meandered left and right as they steered around sand dunes in a remote part of North Africa. Their engines whined as they lumbered forward in low gear. Their wheels juddered over rocks, bouncing the passengers in their seats.

Richard Washington and several companions had traveled from England in early 2005 to explore this place in the vast desert called the Sahara. They had left the last city three days earlier, carrying 200 liters (more than 50 gallons) of extra gasoline. They were on their way to see the dustiest place on Earth.  Read more…

Number of habitable planets could be limited by stifling atmospheres. Science Daily

Fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harboring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot, new research suggests.  Read more…

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