Scientists Discover New Reef System at Mouth of Amazon River

Reef systems are fragile and rare, often containing coral that is hundreds of years old. They provide habitats and feeding grounds for many aquatic animals – yet they are slowly dwindling. However, Science Daily has revealed that scientists have found a New Reef System Near the Mouth of the Amazon River. The Amazon River has one of the largest discharges into the ocean, but typically will “create gaps in the reef distribution along the tropical shelves.” This means that finding a reef system is very rare – which makes this discovery that much more interesting. It started when a scientist had mentioned “‘catching reef fish along the continental shelf and said he wanted to try to locate these reefs'” that spurred the investigation that led to the finding of the reef system. However, Patricia Yager cautions that “From ocean acidification and ocean warming to plans for offshore oil exploration right on top of these new discoveries, the whole system is at risk from human impacts.” I am hopeful that ways will be found to preserve these reefs before it is too late. This article not only addresses an exciting new find but also brings up concerns about our planet and the problems it faces. This is something that needs to be addressed in order to prevent future decaying of our oceans. I wonder how this change will be brought about?

Monarch Butterflies Face Habitat and Nectar Threats

According to ScienceDailyMonarch Butterflies face threats to their habitat and nectar. Typically, the blame goes to “a lack of milkweed, herbicides and genetically modified crops” for the threats to the Monarchs. However, the study found that there were other factors to blame, namely “sparse autumnal nectar sources, weather and habitat fragmentation.” When the population makes its annual trek to Mexico, researchers have noticed a significant decline, and have attributed the recent increase to good weather. However, they also reason that the Monarchs are slowly losing their nectar sources, meaning they will have lost a major food source. This is, in my opinion, something no one wants to happen. Aside from the fact that Monarchs are beautiful, they are also a necessary part of our ecosystem. Unless we reduce the chemicals and pesticides that are contaminating their food source and habitats, we may find them extinct in a few hundred years, significantly impacting our ecosystem. So: What can we do?

Ravens and Crows Might be as Clever as Chimps

According to a new study published on ScienceDailyRavens and Crows Might be as Clever as Chimps. They found out that brain size, contrary to popular stereotypes, has very little to do with intelligence. The scientists determined that one aspect of being considered ‘clever’ is the ability to “override animal impulses and choose a more rational behavior.” They tested this by putting the animals through a series of tests, then repeated the test with ravens and crows. They found that their scores were much higher than expected, proving that “bird brains are quite efficient, despite having a smaller absolute brain size.” I believe this test can pave the way to changing common stereotypes about birds. This is very interesting; to be able to test and understand animal intelligence in birds is very rare. However, the fact that they performed very well proves just how much we have been underestimating birds. I wonder what other animals are secretly ‘geniuses?’

Investigators Reduce Sugar Content in Yogurt Without Reducing Sweetness

I really love yogurt, but, like most people, do not love the high sugar content. Well, ScienceDaily has now released an article that tells how Investigators reduce sugar content of yogurt without reducing sweetness – the perfect solution to a delicious snack. A Danish food company has figured out how to sweeten the yogurt naturally instead of artificially, meaning less sugar and more natural ingredients. They have accomplished this by using yogurt-producing bacteria and manipulating their metabolic properties. Basically, they wanted to change the bacteria to “eat the galactose and spit out the glucose,” said Eric Johansen. Having accomplished this, the yogurt “had very little lactose, and not much galactose. But it was high in glucose–and sweet.” I think that being able to accomplish this is fantastic. In a world where sugar and fast-foods are on the rise, being able to create a product that is healthy and still something people love is incredible. I believe this is the start of a change in the food industry; changing it to incorporate healthier, more natural foods instead of the processed, artificial food we currently consume. I wonder what brand of yogurt this is?

Cells Talk to Their Neighbors Before Making a Move

ScienceDaily has made an exciting new discovery about how Cells Talk to Their Neighbors Before Making a Move. Most people usually think cells are autonomous; however, recent research has led scientists to believe that cells communicate with each other before making a decision. Basically, since they can only talk to their neighbor, cells play the first game of telephone, passing along messages from other cells to think through a decision. And, just like humans, the message usually gets slightly garbled after a while. This means that “there is always a limit of how far information can travel without being garbled in these cellular systems.” However, cells are also able to sense concentration gradients, which is important because “in order to know which direction to move, a cell has to know in which direction the concentration of the chemical signal is higher. Cells sense this gradient and it gives them a reference for the direction in which to move and grow.” Because we have been studying cells in class, I found this really interesting. I have always thought that each cell was kind of like its own little world, with very little interaction with the outside world. Understanding that cells communicate can influence how we use and make medicine as well as our comprehension of the human body. I am just curious how the cells solve the problem of the garbled messages?

Dark ‘Noodles’ May Lurk in the Milky Way

ScienceDaily has posted an intriguing article about how Dark ‘Noodles’ May Lurk in the Milky Way. The entirety of the article is about how there are invisible structures in the galaxy that form the shapes of “noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnuts.” For years, these structures were an unpredictable phenomenon until Dr. Keith Bannister figured out a way to view them with a specific kind of telescope. However, even now, they are unsure exactly what they are looking at. What they do know is that these shapes “‘could radically change ideas about this interstellar gas, which is the Galaxy’s star recycling depot, housing material from old stars that will be refashioned into new ones,'” Dr Bannister said.  In my opinion, this goes a long way towards figuring out some of the mysteries of the galaxy. These lumps, known as ‘lenses,’ could be any number of things, but so far they think they are “cold clouds of gas that stay pulled together by the force of their own gravity.” I really think that this could help us understand more about the foundation of our galaxy and how it works. I also found it very interesting that they are called lenses because of the way they can focus radio waves. That being said: I wonder if we will ever find out their true purpose?

The Aliens Are Silent Because They Are Dead

ScienceDaily has released an article called The Aliens Are Silent Because They Are Dead. Here, they explain that the reason we have been unable to find life on other planets is because they would “die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.” In essence: because no other worlds have a habitat suitable for life, any life forms would die due to extreme heat or cold. Most are like this because of how unstable early life is. Without the proper temperature and air regulations, the organisms would die out very quickly. For example, the writer uses the example of Venus and Mars, saying “About four billion years ago Earth, Venus and Mars may have all been habitable. However, a billion years or so after formation, Venus turned into a hothouse and Mars froze into an icebox.” This is a very plausible theory in my opinion; everyone is very convinced of proof of extraterrestrial life, and the argument is either that aliens are real or they are not. However, this theory makes me realize that there is life out there, just not in our solar system. Why? Well, because none of our planets, bar Earth, are actually habitable. Which makes me wonder: What other worlds are actually out there?

Update: The Latest of My Projects

So far, I have now built part of an LED light board and completed the materials for building a table out of foam core and PVC pipe. Honestly, it has been hard to transition, knowing that I am leaving behind an incomplete project. For the LED board, we got as far as soldering the wires together and building the frame, but due to technical mistakes with the wires, we were unable to complete it. As for the table, we had to pivot midway through, and were only able to complete the materials. We cut the PVC pipe for the legs, spray-painted it, cut the foam core to the correct size, and attached it together (with hot glue of all things  – who would have known?). The hardest thing about the kitchen project was the pivot. We had not known exactly what was wanted for this project, and so designed a few different things before understanding what we should be designing for. The pivot forced us to move away from any half-concocted ideas we might have had, and instead gave us a specific goal as well as step-by-step instructions. This sounds easier, but it was hard figuring out the materials to use as well as how it all was pieced together. Not to mention the lack of time to do this all in. Overall though, it was a fun project to do not only for the skills I acquired from it but also learning how to manage my time better and being able to accept walking away from an incomplete project was very rewarding. I hope to be able to finish the next project and retain the skills I have learned over the past two weeks into the future.