Archive for March, 2005

“Star Wars” Sound Traced to Dwarf Minke Whales

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 30, 2005   View Article

Ever since Luke Skywalker fired up his lightsaber, the sounds of Star Wars movies have been mimicked by battling boys the world over. Now, a scientist believes male dwarf minke whales may make a sci-fi sound to attract females.

In 2001 ocean scientist Jason Gedamke discovered that dwarf minke whales are the source of a mysterious ba-ba-boinnnngggg noise that scientists have heard in the oceans for more than 25 years.

Early Risers Have Mutated Gene, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 30, 2005   View Article

If the early bird gets the worm, Susan Middlebrook should be well fed. Whether she wants to or not, she’s ready to start each day between 1:30 and 3:00 a.m.

“I’m wide awake and ready to paint the house,” the 49-year-old Colchester, Vermont, resident said. “I don’t need a cup of coffee to get going, not at all. But between 4:00 and 5:00 [p.m.] you might have to nudge me with an elbow.”

Middlebrook suffers from what is known as familial advanced sleep phase syndrome, or FASPS. Her body’s clock is out of sync with the sleep-wake rhythm most of the world lives by.

Nanotech Gadgets to Be Built by Algae?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 29, 2005   View Article

Ancient, single-celled organisms that are lowly anchors in the marine food chain may soon be integral players in the lofty realm of nanotechnology, the science of the very small.

Nanotech materials and devices measure less than a hundred nanometers, a unit of measurement that is one billionth of a meter. By contrast, a human hair is about 20,000 nanometers thick.

Schiavo to Die Painlessly, Neurologists Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 28, 2005   View Article

The legal wrangling is effectively over: Doctors will not reinsert the feeding tube that kept Terri Schiavo alive for 15 years. Within days the brain-damaged 41-year-old Florida woman will die.

What will she go through in her last days? To find out, National Geographic News asked several neurologists for a medical explanation of Schiavo’s condition. They all agreed that, assuming that Schiavo is in fact in a persistent vegetative state, she will not experience physical pain.

Nanotech: The Tiny Science is Big, and Getting Bigger

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 24, 2005   View Article

After decades of hype, speculation, and multimillion-dollar laboratory research, the long-promised nanotechnology revolution is finally coming to a store near you. For proof, check out the transparent sunscreens, spillproof pants, and tennis rackets with extra pop now on sale.

Nanotechnology gets its name from the nanometer, a unit of measurement that is one billionth of a meter. A human hair is about 20,000 nanometers thick. Scientists say materials and devices manufactured at the nanoscale promise to change life as we know it.

Jupiter Moon May Have Life – Experts Urge a Mission

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 23, 2005   View Article

Scientists say Jupiter’s moon Europa rivals Mars as a potential refuge for life. Some of them are now urging NASA to explore the ice-covered satellite.

“It takes longer to get there [than to get to Mars], it’s more expensive, and a bigger deal to plan a mission. But if I had a choice, I’d go for Europa,” said Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist with the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Persian New Year Transcends Religions, Regimes

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 17, 2005   View Article

The arrival of the spring equinox on Sunday will cue Persians to party. Far from a gardening rite, the equilibrium of day and night marks the start of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

The holiday is the most revered celebration in the greater Persian world. (In ancient times, Persia included the countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and portions of western China and northern Iraq.)

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