Welcome to Overnight News Digest- Saturday Science. Since 2007 the OND has been a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of science stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary. Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00 AM Eastern Time.
Topics in this edition include:
- Indestructible tardigrades
- Perplexing discovery in JWST data
- Fuel cell powered by soil
- Wind turbines not killing birds like other dangers
- New type of climate denial
- Small Wind Guidebook
by Meghan Bartels
Cute Little Tardigrades Are Basically Indestructible, and Scientists Just Figured Out One Reason Why
Tiny tardigrades have three claims to fame: their charmingly pudgy appearance, delightful common names (water bear and moss piglet) and stunning resilience in the face of threats ranging from the vacuum of space to temperatures near absolute zero.
Now scientists have identified a key mechanism contributing to tardigrades’ resilience—a molecular switch of sorts that triggers a hardy dormant state of being. The researchers hope that the new work, published on January 17 in the journal PLOS ONE, will encourage further exploration of the microscopic creatures’ ability to withstand extreme conditions.
“It’s opened up a whole huge repertoire of experiments we can now pursue,” says Leslie Hicks, a chemist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a co-author of the study.
by Brian Resnick
Astronomers spotted something perplexing near the beginning of time
Not long after the James Webb Space Telescope came online in 2022, astronomers’ jaws hit the floor.
“I remember thinking, This just can’t be right!” says Mike Boylan-Kolchin, a University of Texas Austin astronomer.
The observations he’s referring to would, to you and me, seem like little smudgy red blobs among a field of other smudges and blobs. But in his eyes, they represented a potential challenge to the story scientists have painstakingly constructed about the formative years of our universe.
That is, some time after the Big Bang, around 12-plus billion years ago, when the universe went from a dark, diffuse place full of gas to a light-filled universe populated by stars and galaxies. This is the era that laid the foundation for everything to come — including our solar system, and you and me.
Scientists had some theories about what happened during this crucial period, but the new telescope put them to the test by observing regions of space humans have never seen before.
by Loz Blain
"Dirt-powered fuel cell" draws near-limitless energy from soil
A Northwestern University team has demonstrated a remarkable new way to generate electricity, with a paperback-sized device that nestles in soil and harvests power created as microbes break down dirt – for as long as there's carbon in the soil.
Microbial fuel cells, as they're called, have been around for more than 100 years. They work a little like a battery, with an anode, cathode and electrolyte – but rather than drawing electricity from chemical sources, they work with bacteria that naturally donate electrons to nearby conductors as they chow down on soil.
The issue thus far has been keeping them supplied with water and oxygen, while being buried in the dirt. “Although MFCs have existed as a concept for more than a century, their unreliable performance and low output power have stymied efforts to make practical use of them, especially in low-moisture conditions," said UNW alumnus and project lead Bill Yen.
by Susan Elizabeth Turek
PHD STUDENT RUFFLES FEATHERS AFTER DEBUNKING COMMON MISCONCEPTION ABOUT WIND TURBINES: ‘THERE’S BEEN PROMISING RESEARCH’
Wind turbines can be seen as imposing and sometimes eerie structures, which may be part of the reason why they’ve been on the receiving end of misinformation that would give bird lovers pause.
TikToker Rosh (@all_about_climate) shared a short video on the social media platform to debunk a popular misconception about the clean-energy generators.
“Is it true that wind farms kill birds? This is a common thing you hear, and yes, it is absolutely true,” he explained, noting that studies are still “trying to quantify” the numbers.
“That’s bad obviously. We don’t want to be killing birds,” he continued before pointing out: “On the grand scale of things which kill birds, wind turbines are actually quite low down the list.”
by Rachel Ramirez
What is ‘new denial?’ An alarming wave of climate misinformation is spreading on YouTube, watchdog says
If you’ve been on YouTube lately, you might have come across someone claiming wind and solar energy don’t work, that rising sea levels will help coral reefs flourish, or that climate scientists are corrupt and alarmist.
These are all false and misleading statements taken from a handful of thousands of YouTube videos analyzed by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which has identified a stark change in the tactics of climate deniers over the past few years.
Where once climate deniers would outright reject climate change as a hoax or scam, or claim that humans were not responsible for it, many are now shifting to a different approach, one which attempts to undermine climate science, cast doubt on climate solutions and even claim global warming will be beneficial at best, harmless at worst.
The past five years have seen a “startling” rise in this “new denial,” according to a CCDH analysis published Tuesday, which also suggests this shift in narrative could also be helping YouTube video creators circumvent the social media company’s ban on monetizing climate denial.
by US Department of Energy
Small Wind Guidebook
The Small Wind Guidebook helps homeowners, ranchers, and small business owners decide if wind energy will work for them by addressing the following questions:
- Is wind energy practical for me?
- What size wind turbine do I need?
- What are the basic parts of a small wind electric system?
- What do wind systems cost?
- Where can I find installation and maintenance support?
- How much energy will my system generate?
- Is there enough wind on my site?
- How do I choose the best site for my wind turbine?
- Can I connect my system to the utility grid?
- Can I go off grid?
This is an open thread where everyone is welcome, especially night owls and early birds, to share and discuss the science news of the day. Please share your articles and stories in the comments.
Sorry for the low volume. I’m recovering from a mix of Covid & rhinovirus so I may not check responses in the am. Please chat amongst yourselves.