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Showing posts from December 28, 2015

Turtles' Wayward Travels May Mean BP Oil Spill's Impact Was Global

The far-flung journeys of juvenile sea turtles could mean that the impact of 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill was global. More than 300,000 sea turtles were likely in the region of the Gulf of Mexico affected by the oil spill, according to a new computer simulation. Others hailed from South America, Costa Rica and as far away as western Africa.


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From Blood Rain to Green Poo: 10 Weirdest Science Stories of 2015

The rain in Spain seemed to turn a gory shade of blood red. Last fall, residents of several villages in northwest Spain were alarmed when the water in their local fountains turned an unsettling shade of crimson. A study published in September 2015 found that Spain's bloodbaths were teeming with the microscopic freshwater algae Haematococcus pluvialis, which produce a red pigment when they're stressed.


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The 10 Strangest Animal Discoveries of 2015

For instance, in 2015 researchers identified a ruby-red sea dragon off the coast of Australia, a new species of giant tortoise in the Galápagos Islands and an ancient spikey worm with 30 legs in China. As these newfound creatures are uncovered, it's important to protect them from pollution, habitat loss and the havoc caused by invasive species, especially as Earth enters its sixth mass extinction, experts say.


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Pocket-Size Device Turns Smartphone into a High-Powered Microscope

A sleek, smartphone-powered microscope, dubbed μPeek, recently reached its funding goal on Kickstarter. The device, which attaches to the back of any smartphone (over the top of the camera lens), is about the size of a credit card and is controlled via an app, allowing you to view crystal-clear images of tiny objects and make adjustments to the microscope right on your phone. The microscope is equipped with a motorized lens and sophisticated optical components — two things usually found on expensive (and relatively big) professional microscopes.


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Venomous Sea Snake Washes Up on California Beach, Surprising Scientists

A venomous sea snake washed up on a Southern California beach recently, striking fear in the hearts of beachgoers but eliciting excitement from the scientists who study these marine reptiles. The stranded snake, which was dead when it was discovered on Dec. 12, was a yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platura), the most widespread marine snake in the world. "North of the tip of Baja [California], we have only five documented observations of this snake ever.

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'Writable' Circuits Could Let Scientists Draw Electronics into Existence

Scientists have developed a way to produce soft, flexible and stretchy electronic circuits and radio antennas by hand, simply by writing on specially designed sheets of material. This technique could help people draw electronic devices into existence on demand for customized devices, researchers said in a new study describing the method. Whereas conventional electronics are stiff, new soft electronics are flexible and potentially stretchable and foldable.


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12 Flavors of Rainbows Identified

Why are there so many songs about rainbows? There are 12 types of rainbows, distinguished by various characteristics, the study suggests. Rainbows can even appear as twins, triplets or quadruplets, Jean Ricard, a researcher at the National Meteorological Research Center, in France, said here yesterday (Dec. 17) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.


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Huh? Could Cleaner Air Be Worsening Global Warming?

It may seem counterintuitive, but cleaner air could actually be exacerbating global warming trends. The soot and other particles that make up air pollution tend to scatter light back out into space. As countries around the globe have cleaned up their act, there are fewer particles to reflect light, meaning more sunlight is reaching the Earth's surface and warming it, Martin Wild, a researcher at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, said Tuesday (Dec. 15) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.


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Ancient Mom: Oldest Brood of Preserved Embryos Found

A tiny, shrimplike creature that lived 508 million years ago has been discovered carrying about two-dozen fossilized eggs with preserved embryos in its body, making it the earliest example of brood care with preserved embryos on record, a new study finds. Recently, paleontologists revisited the W. fieldensis fossils, looking at 979 specimens from the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada and 866 specimens housed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. After an extensive search, the researchers found that five of the little creatures from the Canadian collection contained eggs. Carrying eggs is an example of brood care.


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