Monday is here one more time and the opportunity for science talk is here once again. 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 people seek high calorie foods in tough times, a breakthrough in the use of DNA for data storage, a big piece is added to the solar corona puzzle, and dung beetles use the Milky Way for orientation.
Pull up that comfy chair and grab a spot near the fire. There is always plenty of room for everyone. Another session of Dr. Possum's science education, entertainment, and potluck discussion is set to begin.
The psychology of food consumption continues to be studied with a new report suggesting people seek high calorie foods during tough times.
The study shows that when there is a perception of tough times, people tend to seek higher-calorie foods that will keep them satisfied longer. When subconsciously primed with such messages, a “live for today” impulse is triggered causing people to consume nearly 40 percent more food than when compared to a control group primed with neutral words.The ongoing search for means of data management led to the use of DNA as a storage medium. Now scientists report a new method allowing the storage of very large amounts of data in very small amounts of DNA.
A speck of man-made DNA can hold mountains of data that can be freeze-dried, shipped and stored, potentially for thousands of years.The sun's corona is a hot layer of ionized gas which is higher in temperature than the solar surface. The mystery of this heating is closer to being understood with new information from the high resolution corona imager (Hi-C).
The project entails taking data in the form of zeros and 1s in computing's binary code, and transcribing it into "Base-3" code, which uses zeros, 1s and 2s.
The data is transcribed for a second time into DNA code, which is based on the A, C, G and T. A block of five letters is used for a single binary digit.
The letters are then turned into molecules, using lab-dish chemicals.
The work does not entail using any living DNA, nor does it seek to create any life form and in fact the man-made code would be quite useless in anything biological.
The Sun's activity, including solar flares and plasma eruptions, is powered by magnetic fields. Most people are familiar with the simple bar magnet, and how you can sprinkle iron filings around one to see its field looping from one end to the other. The Sun is much more complicated.The lowly dung beetle, an insect with almost no brain, is the first animal proven to use the Milky Way for orientation.
The Sun's surface is like a collection of thousand-mile-long magnets scattered around after bubbling up from inside the Sun. Magnetic fields poke out of one spot and loop around to another spot. Plasma flows along those fields, outlining them with glowing threads.
The images from Hi-C showed interweaved magnetic fields that were braided just like hair. When those braids relax and straighten, they release energy. Hi-C witnessed one such event during its flight.
It also detected an area where magnetic field lines crossed in an X, then straightened out as the fields reconnected. Minutes later, that spot erupted with a mini solar flare.
Hi-C showed that the Sun is dynamic, with magnetic fields constantly warping, twisting, and colliding in bursts of energy. Added together, those energy bursts can boost the temperature of the corona to 7 million degrees F when the Sun is particularly active.
Scientists from South Africa and Sweden have published findings showing the link between dung beetles and the spray of stars which comprises our galaxy.
Although their eyes are too weak to distinguish individual constellations, dung beetles use the gradient of light to dark provided by the Milky Way to ensure they keep rolling their balls in a straight line and don’t circle back to competitors at the dung pile.
Knucklehead's Photo of the Week
Coral Banded Shrimp
With soft leathers beyond
©Knucklehead, all rights reserved, presented by permission. (Click on the image to see more in the same series.)
Other Worthy Stories of the Week
New evidence suggests auroras occur outside our solar system
Possible clues to ancient subsurface biosphere on Mars
A new way to determine the gender of ancient avian species
Humans living 40,000 years ago related to many present-day Asians and Native Americans
Sunken woods provide an oasis for deep sea life
DIY bioprinter lets wannabe scientists build structures from living cells
Studying ancient Earth's geochemistry
NASA airborne mission climbs to stratospheric height for better climate science
How salt stops plant growth
Hailstones reveal life in a storm cloud
Previously unknown fossilized fox species found
Nanoparticles digging the world's smallest tunnels
Rice leaves and butterfly wings provide insight into Nature's best self-cleaning surfaces
Motorists overrate ability to talk on cell phones while driving
The infernal battery
Earth as art: New images from space
The secret life of binary stars
For even more science news:
General Science Collectors:
BBC News Science and Environment
Eureka Science News
Cantauri Dreams space exploration
Coctail Party Physics Physics with a twist.
Deep Sea News marine biology
List of Geoscience Blogs
Tetrapod Zoology vertebrate paleontology
Science RSS Feed: Medworm
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe--a combination of hard science and debunking crap