Scienceline Staff Picks

Basking embryos, pale kiwi, and Paleo-Earth

Our favorites from the week

May 27, 2011

From Katie Palmer:

Feel like something’s missing from your super-smart, touch-screen phone? Piezoelectrics may be able to restore that satisfying ‘click’ feeling you lose when you press a button on a flat screen.

If you watch a lot of crime dramas, you’ve seen those spider-webby strings that forensic scientists use to determine the source of blood spatter at a crime scene. That method doesn’t always work perfectly. But a group of researchers now has used basic physics (along with a mixture of chicken wing sauce and soap) to more accurately determine where the spatter came from.

From the incomparable Ed Yong: Turtle embryos inside their eggs bask in the heat around them, moving to the side of the egg that’s warmest.

From Joey Castro:

Move over seeing-eye dogs and make way for seeing-eye sheep and goats. In this odd tale, a blind horse named Sissy is never without her entourage of sheep and goats, who lead the white mare to food and water, and even guide her into her stall! Who doesn’t love a story about friendships that span species?

Other animals don’t get along so well. New research has found that the Epomis beetle preys on amphibians. That’s right, this beetle eats frogs. Make sure you watch the cool video!

Let’s take a step away from our planet’s life and look at Earth from afar. The Visible Paleo-Earth project has just created new visualizations of Earth from space that show how the planet has changed over the past 750 million years.

From Sabrina Richards:

To keep getting your fix of adorable animals, watch the video of this rare white kiwi chick, recently born in New Zealand’s Pukaha National Wildlife Centre.

Researchers convince skin cells to become neurons! Rather than relying on the plasticity of stem cells, scientists at Stanford University used four different transcription factors to nudge already-differentiated skin cells to transform into differently differentiated cells—neurons.

Reindeer see in UV! Researchers think that by utilizing light into the UV range, reindeer are able to discern food and predators that might otherwise blend into their snowy environments.

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