#ScienceSnapshot

A campaign for Two Photon that illustrates and summarizes recent research into bitesize pieces.

 
 

November 19, 2018

Sometimes you really do need to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk. At least when it comes to addressing sustainability and climate change. A recent study looking at a US solar panel installation program found that community organizers who themselves installed solar panels were able to recruit 62.8% more residents to install solar panels than community organizers who did not. The researchers suggest that actions, rather than words, reveal more about a person’s true beliefs

Learn more by reading the article published in Nature (it’s open access) - Kraft-Todd et al. 2018. Credibility-enhancing displays promote the provision of non-normative public goods. We’d also recommend reading Leor Hacker Gregg Sparmann’s article on Slate entitled “Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Still Matters.” It provides some great insight into the importance of collective action, not just for reducing GHGs, but for catalyzing political change.


September 25, 2018

With eight tentacles, three hearts, zero bones, and a slew of other unusual traits, octopuses aren’t exactly our closest relatives. Still, despite having been separated by over 500 million years of evolution, researchers have discovered a key similarity between us and these curious creatures - thanks to the drug MDMA.


Octopuses typically lead asocial lives and don't interact unless it’s time to mate. But when given MDMA, researchers found that the octopuses were much more friendly, even hugging in some cases! MDMA causes greater release of serotonin, a chemical that regulates moods and contributes to feelings of well-being.


Both octopuses and humans share a similar gene that encodes a protein that transports serotonin. By better understanding how sociality is coded, we can answer questions about how sociality is spread throughout the animal kingdom, from our distant boneless relatives, and beyond.


September 12, 2018

From our tightly packed landfills to the ever-growing Great Pacific garbage patch, it seems our planet is overflowing with junk. Look beyond Earth and you’ll find stray satellites, rocket shards, and other miscellaneous debris competing for space, in space!

It’s estimated that nearly 20,000 objects are in orbit around the Earth. Researchers are looking for ways to measure and clean up this congestion to prevent a debris crash from triggering a cascade of uncontrollable space collisions.

Learn more by reading “The quest to conquer Earth’s space junk problem” by Alexandra Witze for Nature.


August 2, 2018

Hot and dry weather leaves more than just mammals parched. A recent study demonstrates that mosquitos get thirsty too, resulting in higher frequencies of biting and aggression.

This contradicts previous assumptions that warm, wetter conditions lead to more mosquito-bourne illnesses, as mosquitos need water for laying their eggs. Linking drought and dehydration to feeding behavior can better inform how we track the rates and spread of disease transmissions.

Learn more by reading “Bloodthirsty - Dehydrated mosquitos may bite more frequently” by Rachel Nuwer for Scientific American. Or read the article published in Scientific Reports (it’s open access) - Hagen et al. Dehydration prompts increased activity and blood feeding by mosquitoes.


July 22, 2018

Hundreds of millions flock to U.S. national parks every year to escape the bustle and smog of the city. A recent study published in Science Advances suggests the air in America’s most iconic landscapes might not be as fresh as we thought.


Researchers compared 33 popular national parks with 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas and found that from 1990 to 2014, the concentration of ozone was statically indistinguishable.


Depending on where it’s found, ozone can be either beneficial or harmful. Good ozone is found naturally in the upper atmosphere where it protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Bad ozone is the primary component in smog and occurs at the ground level. It’s created when pollutants like car emissions chemically react with light.

Learn more by reading “Visiting a National Park this Summer? Hold Your Breath” by Daniel Ackerman for Scientific American. OR read the article published in Science Advances (it’s open access) - Keiser, Lade, and Rudik. Air pollution and visitation at the U.S. national parks.


July 16, 2018

Researchers at the Univ of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) and the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) have designed a rechargeable battery that uses salt. The molten salt iron-oxide battery works at higher temperatures, resulting in higher energy storage capacity and longer service life. They’re cheaper than conventional batteries, making then a viable energy alternative .

Learn more: “Salt is a key ingredient for cheaper and more efficient batteries” press release from the University of Nottingham available on their website and on ScienceDaily


June 26, 2018

Ocean acidification stresses corals, causing them to release algae living in their tissues. Not only does this result in coral bleaching (algae is what gives coral their color), recent research has found that ocean acidification is dissolving some coral faster than it can build itself back up.

Learn more: "Corals Are Dissolving Away" by Chelsea Harvey for E&E News.


June 17, 2018

Spinal cord injuries result in dense scar tissue that block nerve cells from communicating with each other. Depending on where the damage occurs, one could lose some or all their ability to control their limbs. A groundbreaking gene therapy performed in rats causes cells to dissolve this scar tissue using an enzyme called chondroitinase, allowing the severed nerves to reconnect and giving rats the ability to move their paws again
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Learn more: “New Gene Therapy Could Stitch Together Damaged Spinal Cords” by Dan Robitzski for Futurism. OR read the research article published in Brain (it’s open access) Burnside et al. Immune-evasive gene switch enables regulated delivery of chondroitinase after spinal cord injury.


June 15, 2018

Intelligent robot design just got an upgrade. Nvidia recently unveiled its Jetson™️Xaxier™️, a computer specifically designed to power autonomous robots. According to the press release, it has six kinds of high preforming processors that allow a robot to “perceive the world around them with superhuman capabilities.” .
Learn more: “Nvidia launches AI computer to give autonomous robots better brains” by James Vincent for The Verge.


June 13, 2018

A new study found the speed of hurricanes slowed down around 10 percent between 1949 and 2016. These lingering hurricanes spend more time dumping rain, intensifying the damage of areas in which they strike.

Learn more: “Hurricanes Slow Their Roll around the World” by Giorgia Guglielmi for Nature magazine.