Science talk returns to brighten your day one more time. New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today's information world. Over the fold are selections from the past week from a few of the many excellent science news sites around the world. Today's tidbits include first ever census of emperor penguins in Antarctica using images from space, questioning if water is essential to life, baby foods may be lacking in micronutrients, maybe multitasking is not so bad for you after all, duck-billed dinosaurs endured long,dark polar winters, and a method to produce cement without carbon dioxide emissions.
Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot in the sun. There is always plenty of room for everyone. Another session of Dr. Possum's science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.
Following the numbers of members of species like the emperor penguin which lives and breeds in remote Antarctica helps scientists to determine the effects of climate change.
Using a technique known as pan-sharpening to increase the resolution of the satellite imagery, the science teams were able to differentiate between birds, ice, shadow and penguin poo or guano. They then used ground counts and aerial photography to calibrate the analysis.Prevailing thought today holds water to be essential for life but new observations suggest the problem may be more complex.
Lead author and geographer Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which is funded by the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council, explains, "We are delighted to be able to locate and identify such a large number of emperor penguins. We counted 595,000 birds, which is almost double the previous estimates of 270,000-350,000 birds. This is the first comprehensive census of a species taken from space."
On the ice, emperor penguins with their black and white plumage stand out against the snow and colonies are clearly visible on satellite imagery. This allowed the team to analyze 44 emperor penguin colonies around the coast of Antarctica, and seven previously unknown colonies.
Proteins are large organic molecules that are vital to every living thing, allowing us to convert food into energy, supply oxygen to our blood and muscles, and drive our immune systems. Since proteins evolved in a water-rich environment, it is generally thought that they are dependent on water to survive and function.A study of prepared baby foods suggests there may be a lack of certain micronutrients in the jars.
Proteins consist of one or more polypeptides – chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. If a protein in water is heated to temperatures approaching the boiling point of water, these chains will lose their structure and the protein will denature (unfold).
A classic example of denaturing occurs when an egg is hard-boiled: the structures of the proteins in the egg unfold with temperature and stick together creating a solid. In the egg’s case, this process cannot be reversed – however there are many examples where cooling the protein results in refolding of the structure.
Previously, it was thought that water was essential to the refolding process, however the Bristol findings suggest this isn’t necessarily the case.
The research took eight different sample jars produced by four popular brands from the shelves of leading supermarkets and investigated the micro-nutrient content, using an instrument called an Inductivity Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer, which is used for analysis of elements in food. The samples included four meat and four vegetable varieties, one with pasta, but specific manufacturers were not identified.The study originated in the UK and manufacturers were not identified.
The research showed that infants given one meat jar and one vegetable jar on top of 600ml of formula milk would not be getting enough calcium, magnesium, copper and selenium. On average, the levels were below 20% of the recommended daily supply.
In the electronic times of today many people find themselves performing multiple tasks at the same time (multitasking). The detrimental effects are known in some measure but at last a positive effect has been found.
A total of 63 participants, aged 19-28 years, took part in the experiment. They completed questionnaires looking at their media usage - both time spent using various media and the extent to which they used more than one at a time. The participants were then set a visual search task, with and without synchronous sound, i.e. a short auditory pip, which contained no information about the visual target's location, but indicated the instant it changed color.About 70 million years ago duck-billed dinosaurs inhabited Arctic regions and survived the long, dark polar winters.
On average, participants regularly received information from at least three media at the same time. Those who media multitasked the most tended to be more efficient at multisensory integration. In other words, they performed better in the task when the tone was present than when it was absent. They also per-formed worse than light media multitaskers in the tasks without the tone. It appears that their ability to routinely take in information from a number of different sources made it easier for them to use the unexpected auditory signal in the task with tone, leading to a large improvement in performance in the presence of the tone.
“What we found was that periodically, throughout their life, these dinosaurs were switching how fast they were growing,” said (researcher) Tumarkin-Deratzian. “We interpreted this as potentially a seasonal pattern because we know in modern animals these types of shifts can be induced by changes in nutrition. But that shift is often driven by changes in seasonality.”The finding of certain fossil remains shows the dinosaurs remained in their Arctic environment rather than migrating farther south.
The researchers questioned what was causing the dinosaurs to be under stress at certain times during the year: staying up in the polar region and dealing with reduced nutrition during the winter or migrating to and from lower latitudes during the winter.
A little known contributor to the production of atmospheric carbon dioxide is the production of our friend, the construction material, cement accounting for 5-8% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide production.
As the scientists explain, 60-70% of CO2 emissions during cement production occurs during the conversion of limestone into lime. This conversion involves decarbonation, or removing the carbon atom and two oxygen atoms in limestone (CaCO3) to obtain lime (CaO) with CO2 as the byproduct. The remainder of the emissions comes from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, to heat the kiln reactors that produce the heat required for this decarbonation process.
The STEP (Solar Thermal Electrochemical Production) process addresses both issues, starting by replacing the fossil fuel heat source with solar thermal energy. The solar heat is not only applied directly to melt the limestone, it also provides heat to assist in the electrolysis of the limestone. In electrolysis, a current applied to the limestone changes the chemical reaction so that instead of separating into lime and CO2, the limestone separates into lime and some other combination of carbon and oxygen atoms, depending on the temperature of the reaction. When electrolyzed below 800°C, the molten limestone forms lim
Knucklehead's Photo of the Week
Invasion of Privacy
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Other Worthy Stories of the Week
Why leaning motorcycles can stand on vertical walls
12 billion year old white dwarf stars only 100 light years away
Nanoscientists fine long sought majorana particle
Comet Garradd departs
European dung-fly females all aflutter for large males
Smoking bans lead to less smoking at home
Oldest ever reptile embryos unearthed
Climate change helps then quickly stunts growth
A hybrid solar panel in tube design
Resurfacing urban areas to offset 150 billion tons of carbon dioxide
Clean energy could lead to scarce materials
For even more science news:
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BBC News Science and Environment
Eureka Science News
A Few Things Ill Considered Techie and Science News
Cantauri Dreams space exploration
Coctail Party Physics Physics with a twist.
Deep Sea News marine biology
Laelaps more vertebrate paleontology
List of Geoscience Blogs
Tetrapod Zoologyvertebrate paleontology
Science RSS Feed: Medworm
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe--a combination of hard science and debunking crap
At Daily Kos:
This Week in Science by DarkSyde
Overnight News Digest:Science Saturday by Neon Vincent. OND tech Thursday by rfall.
Pique the Geek by Translator Sunday evenings about 9 Eastern time
All diaries with the DK GreenRoots Tag.
All diaries with the eKos Tag
A More Ancient World by matching mole
SciTech at Dkos.
Sunday Science Videos by palantir