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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 home site map printer-friendly
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science

About 1.8 million years ago, there was a turning point in the evolutionary history of humans. [read more...]
A jar of sweet peas might be the key to determining the seasonal conditions that led to the “Atlantis” volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini, Greece. A recent evaluation of evidence found at the eruption site, published in the journal Naturwissenschaften, re-opened this cold case. [read more...]
Neanderthals, sometimes known as cavemen, were once thought to be dim-witted. Until recently, the possibility of cavemen having artistic talents was simply out of the question. Neanderthals were thought to be incapable of creating Paleolithic art. However, new evidence suggests Neanderthals were more cultured than we thought. [read more...]
Yawning is frequently associated with boredom or drowsiness. Yawning can also be contagious. Like a mirror effect, when someone yawns, it is likely that someone near him or her will yawn back. Furthermore, a study conducted by the University of Pisa and the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC-CNR) of Rome revealed that yawning can be used to evaluate how strong emotional bonds are between people. [read more...]
When I felt my mouth and tongue burning after eating copious amounts of fresh pineapple, I panicked. What if I am allergic to one of my favorite foods? When will the tingling stop? As a biochemistry student, I guessed the burning might have been caused by natural acids in the fruit, but nature had me fooled. [read more...]
Recently, scientists of the University at Geneva declared the finding of a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, our sun’s nearest neighbor. The planet has a mass similar to Earth’s, a key feature vital for human survival. Although the planet is much too close to its sun to sustain life, it gives astronomers and space junkies alike hope that there are more planets near it that fit the requirements to host living things. A closer analysis of this mystery planet, however, is causing scientists to question its existence. [read more...]
While staring out into the black night sky, you can often see that Venus is one of the brightest objects in your view. Venus is the second planet from the sun and is similar to Earth in size and mass. It’s also known as Earth’s twin sister. Both planets were born at about the same time, formed by similar materials, and had similar atmospheres. [read more...]
By using tricks of light and smell, some plants in this world are not friends to insects. These carnivorous plants catch and consume insects to supplement their diets much as humans use vitamins. They need these additives because they live in waterlogged ground that lacks essential nutrients. [read more...]
Drugs are commonly prescribed by doctors to help people who are sick or injured. Many of them have been used for thousands of years in various forms and combinations. [read more...]
Humans are warm-blooded, which means we can generate our own heat. Reptiles are cold-blooded; they cannot generate their own heat. [read more...]
The misuse and overuse of antibiotics has created new strains of more resistant, and even deadly bacteria. Recently, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a list of the three most urgent antibiotic-caused bacteria: Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and drug-resistant gonorrhea. [read more...]
Did you know that a volcano can create a new island in a matter of days? [read more...]
Researchers recently revived a 400-year-old moss from a melting glacier in the High Canadian Arctic. Scientists thought that the old plants living under the glacier were all dead. All new growth in the gap created by the receding glacier was assumed to be by modern plants. They discovered these plants were in fact alive and spreading spores. Theses plants regrew in the laboratory after being preserved for hundreds of years. All new growth in the gap created by the receding glacier was assumed to be by modern plants. [read more...]
Cancer may be a much older disease than scientists thought. A surprising discovery in Croatia revealed a 120,000-year-old Neanderthal specimen with bone cancer. Prior to this discovery, the oldest fossils known to have bone cancer were between 1,000 and 4,000 years old. [read more...]
Since the discovery of its structure in the 1950’s, scientists have been decoding our DNA. Our DNA contains genes, the unique ingredients that help determine what traits we possess and who we become. One complete set of genes, containing all the ingredients for one human, is a genome. Until recently, scientists believed that each human contained only one. [read more...]
Although the Monarch butterfly is the most well known, there are over 15,000 species of butterflies and moths. [read more...]
The discovery in China of a new species of dinosaur has created more questions than answers. [read more...]
Often at the North and South Poles of the Earth, colorful light emerges from the sky and dances with the stars. This light is what we know to be auroras. [read more...]
At 17 years of age, many of us have barely reached our first rites of passage, let alone our expiration dates. But at 17, the periodical cicada ends its life, making it the longest living insect. [read more...]
Scientists at the University of Michigan recently engineered an important conductor made of gold nanoparticles and an elastic polymer. But what looks like a shiny piece of gold foil and stretches like a rubber band could potentially be made into electrode implants for the brain or the heart. [read more...]
Scientists have confirmed the discovery of the oldest rock art in North America. Etched as long as 14,800 years ago, these carvings, or petroglyphs, were found at Winnemucca Lake in Nevada. [read more...]
Pickling is an interesting and ancient process. Pickles come in many different types, shapes and sizes. [read more...]
Do you know the difference between a swamp and a marsh? There is one main difference: swamps contain trees and shrubbery, while marshes are waterlogged areas without trees. More land dwelling animals live in swamps, while marshes are home to a variety of birds. [read more...]
A shark known as the dogfish can supply a cure for various viral diseases. [read more...]
Wind is the movement of air. Air moves because of differences in the pressure system. Wind blows from places of higher pressure to places of lower pressure. When it is cold, the air pressure is higher than when it is warm. High winds can form hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons. [read more...]
Developed in 1990 by Lyle Hill and Bob Heidman, the Adult Role Models in Science program, better known as ARMS, is a partnership between children and adults handled by the UW-Madison Institute for Biology Education. Their mission is to improve science education in elementary and middle schools through long-term community collaboration. [read more...]
For many years scientists have been puzzled by the origin of snakes. DNA analysis indicates that snakes are related to monitor lizards and iguanas. Snakes look more similar to worm lizards, an earthworm-like animal. [read more...]
These days, most of the fish you find in Wisconsin’s lakes and elsewhere have jaws. But in ancient times, most fish were jawless and sucked up their prey through their mouths. It was not until 420 million years ago, during the Devonian period, that fish jaws evolved. [read more...]
More than 30,000 years ago, an Ice Age squirrel hid its fruits and seeds in an underground burrow. Recently, a team of scientists led by Svetlana Yashin, of the Institute of Cell Biophysics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, resurrected a flower from the fruit tissue remains of this squirrel’s hidden treasure. [read more...]
A new discovery suggests that about 1.8 million years ago there were several pre-human species living in Africa. The species Homo Erectus is believed to be our direct ancestor. But now it seems possible humans had two additional relatives. [read more...]
Last spring, I graduated from Memorial High School. I will be starting my first semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall, where I hope to study biochemistry and microbiology. One of my most memorable high school moments, a group demonstration in AP Chemistry class, might have given me a good taste of what I’ll learn about in a college chemistry class. [read more...]
Recently, a group of Simpson Street Free Press reporters and I took a trip to the UW Madison’s L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum located in Chamberlin Hall. The museum featured hands-on physics demonstrations that appeal to young and old audiences alike. The exhibits were fascinating, and really grabbed our attention. We knew right away that this was a story we wanted to cover. The experiments that take place here explain physics in a way that even a younger child can understand. It is a place of exploration and discovery. [read more...]
I sometimes lose my train of thought— as do many others. And what can we blame for this maddening behavior? According to science, the culprit is the anterior temporal lobe (ATL). [read more...]
Almost everyone considers the common louse a pesky little critter. But now scientists have discovered that they are more useful than first thought. [read more...]
Adult mammals sleep for varying numbers of hours per day. However, sometimes these numbers can be drastically different among species. Recent studies show that there is a relationship between average sleep and an animals’ survival needs. [read more...]
For almost three years Charles Bentley has been digging a hole. [read more...]
A study that followed approximately 100,000 nurses for up to 30 years demonstrates that women who consume three or more alcohol drinks per week show an elevated risk of breast cancer. This new research finds a link between drinking and breast cancer that is not necessarily causal; it is only correlational. No conclusive proof supports the notion that drinking causes breast cancer. [read more...]
More people than ever are thinking about ways to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Some scientists suggest that cutting back on our meat diets would help. The raising of livestock like pigs and cows occupies two-thirds of the world’s farmland and causes 20 percent of greenhouse gases according to some estimates. [read more...]
There are only about 300 Indochinese tigers in the world. About 100 of them live in Thailand, Lao PDR, and perhaps 30 living in Vietnam. The population in Myanmar is currently unknown. Although they originate in China, the last known Indochinese tiger spotted in China was killed and eaten in 2007 by a poacher. [read more...]
When a person falls asleep, they experience a series of sensations, which they generally have no control over. This is known as dreaming. When people dream, they generally are not aware that they are in this state. However, in the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, people are aware. [read more...]
“Whether these particular birds went extinct after humans arrived, we don’t know and the trick is we don’t have a lot of fossils,” says Nicholas R. Longrich, a paleontologist at Yale. He is talking about the Xenicibus Xympithecus. [read more...]
Penguin researchers have long debated the accuracy of the flipper bands used to track penguins and study their migration patterns. A recent study now raises ethical questions about the use of these bands. [read more...]
Researchers have discovered one of the earliest dinosaurs. Scientists recently unearthed a small, and formally very vicious, dinosaur called Eodromaeus. This species lived about 230 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs were just starting to populate Earth. Eodromaeus weighed up to 14 pounds and was about four feet long. This new study will be published in the journal Science. [read more...]
When you think of people who have succeeded in math and science, many of us normally think of Einstein, Isaac Newton or Galileo. Are you surprised that they are all men? The history books have not had much to say about women and the sciences. [read more...]
Most people know about ordinary volcanoes, but many have not heard about unique supervolcanoes. These extremely rare volcanoes are the worlds most powerful. They are rated number eight—the highest figure on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. [read more...]
Building artificial organs from individual cells is a difficult task for scientists. However, medical may soon successfully meet this medical challenge using a new process: micromasonry. [read more...]
Over the last year, Wisconsin’s wolf population has grown by about ten percent. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) counted at least 180 wolf packs in the state. Though some packs consist of as few as two wolves, 52 of Wisconsin’s wolf packs include at least five individuals. The state’s largest wolf pack is the eleven wolf Moose Road pack, which roams the forests of Douglas County. [read more...]
The zebra mussel is native to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. However during the past 20 years this species has found a way to the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, and California. [read more...]
Five years ago Harvard University President Larry Somers sparked a nation-wide controversy when he said that women and girls may not have the same aptitude for math and science as their male counterparts. Part of what made these comments so controversial is that Somers is a well-known national figure. He currently serves as a Senior Economic Advisor with the Obama Administration. [read more...]
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently blocked the sale of the first over-the-counter personal genetics tests. This product was scheduled to hit the shelves of Walgreens and CVS Pharmacies this year. Many would have been thrilled with this opportunity to test their likelihood of developing genetic diseases. The FDA, however, certainly wasn’t jumping for joy. [read more...]
Traditionally, when a cavity was discovered in a tooth, a dentist had to drill through the tooth to treat it. But a new tool has been developed that stops early-stage cavities. It is called the Icon system, and was developed by the dental-materials manufacturer DMG. [read more...]
The nutria is a furry, rat-like rodent that has been invading the southern wetlands of the United States. Originally from South America, nutria were brought here in the 1930s and ‘40s and bred for their fur. When fur went out of style, many were released into the wild. [read more...]
Fifteen years ago, a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan started a scientific cooperation between the two countries. As a result of this cooperation, a new species of desert spider has been found. The Cerbalus aravensis was recently discovered in the Sands of Samar, a dune area on the border of Israel and Jordan. [read more...]
All over the world, plants and animals of different species from varied environments reproduce. One thing that is different across species is the mechanism that determines gender. [read more...]
Shy, swift, and elusive, tree frogs leap from tree to tree with amazing agility, making them difficult for humans to observe. Wisconsin is home to two different species of tree frogs: the eastern gray (hyla versicolor) and the Cope’s gray (hyla chrysoscelis). [read more...]
Ten years ago, Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago led a team of paleontologists into the Sahara Desert. During the expedition, these scientists found the remains of the largest known crocodile ever to walk the Earth. They dubbed their new discovery SuperCroc. [read more...]
When we envision a dinosaur catching its prey, we usually imagine a ferocious T-Rex viciously clawing, biting, and gulping down some poor animal. But one dinosaur in particular appears to have used a very different technique. [read more...]