Monday afternoon once again here on the East coast.  Time to gather around and have a bit of science talk.  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 hints of new physics emerge from the Large Hadron Collider, new evidence for the oldest oxygen breathing life on land, old stars known as 'blue stragglers' explained, a significant ozone hole remains over Antarctica, a planet-sized object as cool as Earth is seen in a record breaking photograph, US rivers and streams are saturated with carbon, and Viking boat burial is UK mainland first.  Pull up that comfy chair and bask in the sunshine. There is plenty of room for everyone.  Get ready for another session of Dr. Possum's science education and entertainment.

Featured Stories
As the mysteries of the universe continue to be explored by scientists at the Large Hadron Collider facility new news is a regular happening.

Preliminary findings from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider may have uncovered experimental evidence for physics beyond the Standard Model. Data from the CMS experiment is showing significant excesses of particles known as leptons being created in triplets, a result that could be interpreted as evidence for a theory called supersymmetry.


The most familiar lepton is the humble electron, though other, more exotic particles such as muons and taus also fall in this category. Producing a single one of these subatomic particles in the proton-proton collisions at the LHC is relatively rare, and generating two or even three at a time is even more unusual. Certain interactions predicted under supersymmetry could enhance the odds of triple lepton events, so seeing excesses is reason to raise some eyebrows.

Researchers found evidence of oxygen-breathing bacteria as much as 100 million years earlier than thought.

Pyrite oxidation is a simple chemical process driven by two things: bacteria and oxygen. The researchers say this proves that oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere increased dramatically during that time.

“Aerobic bacteria broke down the pyrite, which released acid that dissolved rocks and soils into a cocktail of metals, including chromium,” says (researcher) Konhauser. “The minerals were then carried to the oceans by the run-off of rain water.

“Our examination of the ancient seabed data shows the chromium levels increased significantly 2.48 billion years ago,” said Konhauser. “This gives us a new date for the Great Oxidation Event, the time when the atmosphere first had oxygen.”

A mysterious class of stars known as 'blue stragglers' are older than they appear and burn hot and blue.

(Scientists) report that a mechanism known as mass transfer explains the origins of the blue stragglers. Essentially, a blue straggler eats up the mass, or outer envelope, of its giant-star companion. This extra fuel allows the straggler to continue to burn and live longer while the companion star is stripped bare, leaving only its white dwarf core.

While the ozone layer helps to protect the surface of Earth from the effects of harmful ultraviolet radiation the hole over Antarctica continues to have a size of real significance.

Levels of most ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere have been gradually declining since an international treaty to protect the ozone layer, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, was signed. That international treaty caused the phase out of ozone-depleting chemicals, then used widely in refrigeration, as solvents and in aerosol spray cans.

Global atmospheric models predict that stratospheric ozone could recover by the middle of this century, but the ozone hole in the Antarctic will likely persist one to two decades beyond that, according to the latest analysis by the World Meteorological Organization...

The photo of a nearby star with its orbiting planet (cool as a hot day in Arizona) is to be presented at a forthcoming scientific meeting.

"This planet-like companion is the coldest object ever directly photographed outside our solar system," said (researcher) Luhman, who led the discovery team. "Its mass is about the same as many of the known extra-solar planets -- about six to nine times the mass of Jupiter -- but in other ways it is more like a star. Essentially, what we have found is a very small star with an atmospheric temperature about cool as the Earth's."

Luhman classifies this object as a "brown dwarf," an object that formed just like a star out of a massive cloud of dust and gas. But the mass that a brown dwarf accumulates is not enough to ignite thermonuclear reactions in its core, resulting in a failed star that is very cool. In the case of the new brown dwarf, the scientists have gauged the temperature of its surface to be between 80 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit -- possibly as cool as a human.

Rivers and streams in the US are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than thought before.

The researchers found that a significant amount of carbon contained in land, which first is absorbed by plants and forests through the air, is leaking into streams and rivers and then released into the atmosphere before reaching coastal waterways.


This release is equal to a car burning 40 billion gallons of gasoline, enough to drive back and forth to the moon 3.4 million times.

Archeologists working in the Scottish highlands found the remains of a Viking boat burial.

The 5m-long grave contained the remains of a high status Viking, who was buried with an axe, a sword with a beautifully decorated hilt, a spear, shield boss and bronze ring-pin.

The Viking had been buried in a ship, whose 200 or so metal rivets were also found by the team.

Other Worthy Stories of the Week
Scientists develop new way to determine when water was present on Mars and Earth
GPS shoes for Alzheimer's patients to hit US
Space weather prediction model improves NOAA forecast skill
Water vapor reveals how stars form around black hole
Observing quantum particles in perfect order
IQ can rise or fall significantly during adolescence
What makes tires grip the road on a rainy day?
Home washing machines:  Source of potentially harmful microplastic pollution
Female shift workers may be at higher risk for heart disease
Tracing the first North American hunters
Biggest ever study shows no link between mobile phone use and tumors
Fluoride shuttle increases battery storage capacity
Researchers turn viruses into molecular Legos
Spiral arms of a young star hint at planets
Researchers identify mysterious life forms in the extreme deep sea  With video.
Production of biofuels from forests will increase greenhouse emissions
Pi enthusiast calculates its value to ten-trillion digits
Spitzer detects comet storm in nearby solar system

For even more science news:
General Science Collectors:
BBC News Science and Environment
Eureka Science News
New Scientist
Science Alert
Science Centric
Science Daily
Scientific American
Space Daily

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
Space Review
Techonology Review
Tetrapod Zoologyvertebrate paleontology
Science Insider
Scientific Blogging.
Wired News
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
Astro Kos
SciTech at Dkos.
Sunday Science Videos by palantir

NASA picture of the day. For more see the NASA image gallery or the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive

Infrared View of Star Formation in Orion Nebula, NASA, Public Domain

Originally posted to possum on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter and SciTech.

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