Scienceline Staff Picks

Moon trees, magical mole rats, and some awesome videos

Our favorites from the week

July 8, 2011

From Francie Diep:

“Bird-watching in Iraq is not like bird-watching in a U.S. national park” — an Iraqi ornithologist talks about the challenges of doing field work in war-torn areas.

Check out these awesome and eerie news videos about the global seed bank in Svalbard.

An oldie but a goodie, in more ways than one: gel electrophoresis cookies!

From Rose Eveleth:

As I mentioned in our fireworks audio quiz, I was never allowed to play with fireworks as a kid. Which is probably a good thing, since I’m clumsy enough to seriously hurt myself just going up some stairs, let alone handling explosives. Anywho, it seems like actually being a firework might be much more fun that playing with them. This guy put some video cameras on his fireworks, to see what life is like launching through the air.

I link to his blog a lot, but Robert Krulwich has a good pick-me-up blog about thinking differently. We should all do it more.

Have you ever heard of moon trees? They are not, sadly, made of cheese, or full of men. Instead, they are trees grown from seeds that went into space with the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 and they’ve been planted all over the US. The coolest part (I think) is that NASA is trying to find all the moon trees that are still around. Five-hundred went up into space, and NASA knows about the locations of 79 of them. Do you know where one is?


From Joey Castro:

Researchers announced this week that they’ve sequenced the genome of the naked mole rat. Why, you ask? Well, while they may never win a beauty contest, naked mole rats practically have super powers—they live long, feel no pain in their skin, survive in oxygen-poor environments and are resistant to cancer and other diseases. Step aside Superman.

In space news, researchers have found a tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide in space. Hydrogen peroxide, or H2O2, is more than just a common bleach: if it reacts with another hydrogen atom, it produces water (H2O). Scientists hope that this discovery will help them better understand how water formed in the universe and here on Earth.

And, finally, for your viewing pleasure: time-lapse photography of the recent gigantic dust storm in Arizona.


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