Tuesday, February 05, 2019

science news 5.2.2019

Today's selection of science news. Links are normally to press releases on EurekAlert (at the bottom end I may also add a couple of newspaper stories). I include quotes from the summary (using quotation marks) in cases where the title alone doesn't reveal what the story is about.


astrobiology

Retreating snow line reveals organic molecules around young star


chemistry

FSU chemists harness power of light to tackle asymmetrical molecules
"... a way to turn a 'left-handed' molecule into a 'right-handed' one -- a process that could have important implications for drug development."


evolution

First discovered fossil feather did not belong to iconic bird Archaeopteryx



The isolated Archaeopteryx feather is the first fossil feather ever discovered. Top image, the feather as it looks today under white light. Middle image, the original drawing from 1862 by Hermann von Meyer. Bottom image, Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence (LSF) showing the halo of the missing quill. Scale bar is 1cm.
Credit: @The University of Hong Kong


ecology

Culprit found for honeybee deaths in California almond groves
"Fungicides, often needed for crop protection, are routinely used during almond bloom, but in many cases growers were also adding insecticides to the mix. Our research shows that some combinations are deadly to the bees, and the simplest thing is to just take the insecticide out of the equation during almond bloom."
I happen to think though that the whole industrialised trucking around of bee colonies can't be very good for them either. Almond products shouldn't be considered vegan, really.

Why charismatic, introduced species are so difficult to manage
"Introduced and invasive species can present big problems, particularly when those species are charismatic. Some introduced species, like zebra mussels, tend to be reviled by the public, and people willingly adhere to strict management policies. However, if an animal has that elusive quality of charisma, people often don't want it to be controlled, even if it's harming the environment. Inevitably, these imbalances in public perception of introduced species influence the way those organisms are managed."
Just ask any of the raccoons you may find around Europe (where they don't belong).


humans

The Caucasus: Complex interplay of genes and cultures
"In the Bronze Age, the Caucasus Mountains region was a cultural and genetic contact zone. Here, cultures that originated in Mesopotamia interacted with local hunter-gatherers, Anatolian farmers, and steppe populations from just north of the mountain ranges. Here, pastoralism was developed and technologies such as the wheeled wagon and advanced metal weapons were spread to neighbouring cultures. A new study, examines new genetic evidence in concert with archaeological evidence to paint a more complete picture of the region."

Women's brains appear three years younger than men's
"... according to a new study on brain metabolism from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The findings could explain why women maintain their cognitive skills longer than men."


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from the news media:

The Milky Way is twisted, reports the Guardian (and probably everybody else, too).


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