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Monday is here once more and the time for science talk has arrived.  Time to brighten your day with selections from science sites across the globe.  New discoveries, new takes on old knowledge, and other bits of news are all available for the perusing in today's information world.  Today's tidbits include tiny algae shed light on photosynthesis as a dynamic property, hagfish slime as a model for tomorrow's natural fabrics, ecologists shed new light on the effects of artificial light on wildlife, and new research pushes back the age of the Grand Canyon.

Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot on the porch.  There is always plenty of room for everyone.  Another session of Dr. Possum's science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.

Featured Stories
Photosynthesis is a chemical process necessary to the continuation of life on Earth as plants convert carbon dioxide, water, and solar energy to produce organic compounds.

Many of the world’s most important photosynthetic eukaryotes such as plants did not develop the ability to combine these ingredients themselves. Rather, they got their light-harnessing organelles—chloroplasts—indirectly by stealing them from other organisms. In some instances, this has resulted in algae with multiple, distinct genomes, the evolutionary equivalent of a “turducken.”

Chloroplasts originally evolved from photosynthetic bacteria by primary endosymbiosis, in which a bacterium or other prokaryote is engulfed by a eukaryotic host. The chloroplasts of red and green algae have subsequently come to reside within other, previously non-photosynthetic eukaryotes by secondary endosymbiosis. Such events have contributed to the global diversity of photosynthetic organisms that play a crucial role in regulating and maintaining the global carbon cycle. In most organisms that acquired photosynthesis by this mechanism, the nucleus from the ingested algal cell has disappeared, but in some cases it persists as a residual organelle known as a nucleomorph. Such organisms have four distinct genomes.

While any number of new and different fabrics are becoming more available these days the discovery of hagfish slime properties may allow further improvement.
Rising prices and the quest for more sustainable alternatives have led scientists to consider the possibilities of using protein-based raw materials, such as spider silk. Another candidate comes from the hagfish, an eel-like fish that produces a thick slime to protect itself against predators. A single Atlantic Hagfish can produce quarts of slime in seconds. It clogs the gills and may suffocate other fish. The slime consists of tens of thousands of remarkably strong threads, each 100 times thinner than a human hair. The scientists set out to investigate spinning spider-silk-like fibers from the proteins of these slime threads.
Mixed news arises as ecologists continue to study the effects of artificial light on wildlife.
The study found that artificial light had a major impact on how redshanks searched for food, allowing them to forage more efficiently. At night, birds in brightly-lit areas foraged for longer and foraged by sight, rather than touch, compared with birds under darker night skies.

According to Dr Dwyer, who was based at the University's Cornwall campus at the time of the study: “Artificial light from industrial areas strongly influenced the foraging strategy of our tagged birds. It was as if the 24-hour light emitted from lamps and flares on the Grangemouth oil refinery site created, in effect, a perpetual full moon across the local inter-tidal area which the birds seemed to capitalise on by foraging for longer periods at night and switching to a potentially more effective foraging behaviour to locate prey.”

The results contrast with other studies, which have found adverse effects of light pollution on wildlife. Previous research found artificial light caused newly-hatched turtles to head away from the sea, rather than towards it, and caused seabirds such as petrels to collide with lighthouses and other lit structures.

The Grand Canyon may have been carved out 70 million years ago during the time of dinosaurs.
There have been a number of studies in recent years reporting various ages for the Grand Canyon, said Flowers. The most popular theory places the age of the Grand Canyon at 5 million to 6 million years based on the age of gravel washed downstream by the ancestral Colorado River. In contrast, a 2008 study published in Science estimated the age of the Grand Canyon to be some 17 million years old after researchers dated mineral deposits inside of caves carved in the canyon walls.

Paleontologists believe dinosaurs were wiped out when a giant asteroid collided with Earth 65 million years ago, resulting in huge clouds of dust that blocked the sun’s rays from reaching Earth’s surface, cooling the planet and killing most plants and animals.

Knucklehead's Photo of the Week

Montipora Morphs

MONTIPORA MORPHS  DSCN5034

©Knucklehead, all rights reserved, presented by permission.  (Click on the image to see more in the same series.)

Other Worthy Stories of the Week
Planned cities seen from space
Dust grains highlight the path to planet formation
Implantable silk optics multi-task in the body
Giant black hole could upset galaxy evolution models
Fish ear bones point to climate impacts
Frozen water and organic material discovered on Mars
Hypersonic flight 'breakthrough' promises Tokyo by lunch
NASA's Cassini sees abrupt turn in Titan's atmosphere
Record setting X-ray jet discovered
Ice sheet loss at both poles increasing
Biggest black hole blast discovered
More intense North Atlantic storms predicted
Mixing dispersants for Gulf cleanup led to increased toxicity
Genome of the "Black Death" provides evidence for ancient bubonic plague pandemic
Skeletons in cave reveal Mediterranean secrets
New research shows record high for global carbon emissions
Unexpected data from the large hadron collider suggests the formation of new matter

For even more science news:
General Science Collectors:
Alpha-Galileo
BBC News Science and Environment
Eureka Science News
LiveScience
New Scientist
PhysOrg.com
SciDev.net
Science/AAAS
Science Alert
Science Centric
Science Daily
Scientific American
Space Daily

Blogs:
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
List of Geoscience Blogs
Science20.com
ScienceBlogs
Space Review
Science Insider
Scientific Blogging.
Space.com
Techonology Review
Tetrapod Zoologyvertebrate paleontology
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
Photobucket
Double Prominence Solar Eruption, NASA, Public Domain

Originally posted to possum on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:30 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town and SciTech.

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