Welcome to this week’s edition of Saturday Science Links. We hope to keep you up to date with some of the headlines pertaining to science.
University of British Columbia researchers made an accidental and fascinating discovery about the whales of the rorqual group (which include Earth’s largest living animal, the blue whale):They have elastic nerves! Or, more precisely, they have nerve fibers in their tongues that are folded within a stretchy outer layer that allow them to stretch to twice their original length. According to the study’s lead author, A. Wayne Vogl, a lab member made the discovery unwittingly by playfully picking up the nerve and stretching it. The nerves play an important role in their feeding strategy and are an important evolutionary adaptation, allowing them to eat large amounts so they can grow to their massive size.
For the first time, scientists have captured an “image” of thunder by illustrating its sound waves visually. And it’s pretty beautiful. In the linked Live Science article, research scientist Maher A. Dayeh was quoted as saying, "The initial constructed images looked like a colorful piece of modern art that you could hang over your fireplace.” It’s also useful, as the experts hope the technology will help them understand more about the nature of thunder.
Astronomers have identified the most distant galaxy from the earth yet to be discovered. Named EGS-zs8-1, the galaxy lies 13.1 billion light-years from the earth and was originally identified by the Hubble Space Telescope and the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope. They hope this and other discoveries from this study can help lead to both better conclusions and better questions about the development of the universe.
NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover captured a rare and stunning photo of the sun setting over the red planet.
No fuel? No problem.The Solar Impulse 2, a solar plane piloted by the former Swiss fighter pilot André Borschberg, began a five- to seven-day journey across the Pacific Ocean—an unprecedented venture for solar-powered flight. The flight is part of a multi-leg, solar-powered journey around the globe, which was the brainchild of Swiss psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard. This particular leg of the journey was set to begin on May 12 in Nanjing, China and end in Honolulu, Hawaii.
A team of scientists, including microbiologist Steffen L. Jorgensen (University of Bergen, Norway) and microbiologist Thijs J. G. Ettema (Uppsala University, Sweden), made an important evolutionary discovery:a transitional form in the evolution of complex cells. The team found microbes, which they named Lokiarchaeum, at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean that show a level of complexity that suggests they may be a key link in the evolution of eukaryotic cells; the newly discovered microbes are more complex than archaea (simple microbes that can live in extreme environments), but not as complex as eukaryotes (more complex cells with a nucleus). Currently, the team is working to recreate conditions of the microbes’ deep-sea environment in the laboratory, in order to study them better.
On Wednesday the 13th, Google’s search engine image (also known as the “Google Doodle”)celebrated Dr. Inge Lehmann’s would-be 127th birthday. Lehmann was a Danish seismologist who discovered the earth’s inner core. Today, her innovative model, which was originally proposed in a 1936 paper, remains standard in the scientific community.
I’ll end this week’s edition of Saturday Science Links with a fun yet informative video. Many animals have fascinating defensive strategies, but have you heard of the trap-jaw ant? It might display one of the most impressive (and wild) strategies yet: It can catapult away from life-threatening situations with its jaws. Don’t believe it? Check out thisvideo.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blog/saturday-science-links-may-16-2015