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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 microbes found in extreme environment on South American volcanoes, why does not the mother reject the fetus as foreign material, scientists uncover huge phytoplankton bloom in ice covered waters, floating dock from Japan carries possible invasive species, Arctic ice melt sets the stage for more severe winters, and warming turns Tundra to forest.

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
Even some of the most inhospitable climate conditions on the Earth may support microbial life as scientists found in South American volcanoes.

A new DNA analysis of rocky soils in the Martian-like landscape on some volcanoes in South America has revealed a handful of bacteria, fungi and other rudimentary organisms called archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.

(snip)

...the microbes might slowly generate energy by means of chemical reactions that extract energy and carbon from wisps of gases such as carbon monoxide and dimethylsulfide that blow into the desolate mountain area.

During the time of pregnancy a fetus is foreign material that is not reject by the mother's body.
During pregnancy, the foreign antigens of the fetus and placenta come into direct contact with cells of the maternal immune system but fail to evoke the typical tissue rejection response seen with surgical organ transplants.
Contrary to current belief phytoplankton can prosper under ice covered waters as a recent discovery in the Arctic shows.
Until now, sea ice was thought to block sunlight and limit the growth of microscopic marine plants living under the ice.

The amount of phytoplankton growing in this under-ice bloom was four times greater than the amount found in neighboring ice-free waters. The bloom extended laterally more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) underneath the ice pack, where ocean and ice physics combined to create a phenomenon that scientists had never seen before.

Among the debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami that has hit American waters is a portion of a boat dock.
It is difficult to assess how much of a threat the organisms on the newly arrived float may present, the researchers say. As future debris arrives, it may carry additional species, they point out. However, this dock may be unique in that it represents debris that has been submerged in Japan and had a well-developed subtidal community. This may be relatively rare, given the amount of debris that entered the ocean, the researchers say.
As a result of the increasing Arctic ice melt scientists say we are in for more severe winters in the future even though some areas were spared the last winter season.
A warmer Earth increases the melting of sea ice during summer, exposing more dark ocean water to incoming sunlight. This causes increased absorption of solar radiation and excess summertime heating of the ocean -- further accelerating the ice melt. The excess heat is released to the atmosphere, especially during the autumn, decreasing the temperature and atmospheric pressure gradients between the Arctic and middle latitudes.

A diminished latitudinal pressure gradient is linked to a weakening of the winds associated with the polar vortex and jet stream. Since the polar vortex normally retains the cold Arctic air masses up above the Arctic Circle, its weakening allows the cold air to invade lower latitudes.

As climate change continues to progress with time the surface real estate is changing as shown by the development of forested areas on what was once Tundra
Scientists from Finland and Oxford University investigated an area of around 100,000 km2, known as the northwestern Eurasian tundra, stretching from western Siberia to Finland. Surveys of the vegetation, using data from satellite imaging, fieldwork, and expert observations from indigenous reindeer herders, showed that in 8-15% of the area willow (Salix) and alder (Alnus) plants have grown into trees over 2 metres in height in the last 30-40 years.

Previous models assessing the potential impact of forestation have suggested that the advance of forest into Arctic tundra could increase Arctic warming by an extra 1-2 degrees Celsius by the late 21st Century.

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Knucklehead's Photo of the Week
Basket of Tomato
(Tomato Clownfish in Red Bubble Tip Anemone)

cln DSCN3235
©Knucklehead, all rights reserved.  (Click on the image to see more in the same series.)

Other Worthy Stories of the Week
Mars crater shows evidence for climate evolution
Origin of particle acceleration in cusps of Earth magnetosphere uncovered
The delicate balance of star formation in the Corina Nebula
How NASA's 1980's space revolution collapsed
How arsenic gets into baby formula
It's official:  Neutrinos can't beat the speed of light
Parasitic plants steal genes from their hosts
The US experienced the second warmest May and the warmest Spring on record
Should spinal manipulation for neck pain be abandoned?
New technique for detecting mold contamination in homes and other buildings
Mirror that eliminates 'blind spot' earns US patent

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
Laelaps more vertebrate paleontology
List of Geoscience Blogs
ScienceBlogs
Space Review
Techonology Review
Tetrapod Zoologyvertebrate paleontology
Science Insider
Scientific Blogging.
Space.com
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

Hi-def view of Venus crossing the Sun, NASA, public domain

Originally posted to possum on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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