Archive for May, 2005

Snap, Buckle, Pop: The Physics of Fast-Moving Plants

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 26, 2005   View Article

Fleet-footed animals, such as gazelles and cheetahs, aren’t the only livings things that rely on speed for their survival. The same is true for some plants and fungi.

Consider the Venus flytrap, the poster child for carnivorous plants: Its jaw-like leaves can ensnare insects in an eye-blurring one-tenth of a second.

Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” Is Size of New Jersey

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 25, 2005   View Article

Each year a swath of the Gulf of Mexico becomes so devoid of shrimp, fish, and other marine life that it is known as the dead zone.

Scientists have identified agricultural fertilizers as a primary culprit behind the phenomenon. Researchers are now focusing on shrinking the zone.

X-Ray “Vision” Unlocking Black Hole Mysteries

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

Advances in x-ray astronomy are resolving some enduring mysteries about black holes, scientists say. Black holes are places in space where the force of gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape.

In recent years scientists have learned to find black holes by sweeping the skies with space-based telescopes equipped with x-ray “vision.” X-rays are a high-energy form of light that is invisible to the human eye.

Can the Moon Cause Earthquakes?

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

Coast dwellers are accustomed to the daily rhythm of the tides, which are primarily lulled in and out by the gentle gravitational tug of the moon. Some scientists wonder whether the moon’s tugging may also influence earthquake activity.

“The same force that raises the ‘tides’ in the ocean also raises tides in the [Earth’s]crust,” said Geoff Chester, an astronomer and public affairs officer with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

New Monkey Species Discovered in East Africa

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 19, 2005   View Article

Scientists have discovered a new monkey species in the mountains of East Africa.

The new primate, known as the highland mangabey (Lophocebus kipunji), was identified by two independent research teams working in separate locations in southern Tanzania.

In Sports, Red Is Winning Color, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2005   View Article

Note to sportswear shops: stock up on red.

When opponents of a game are equally matched, the team dressed in red is more likely to win, according to a new study.

British anthropologists Russell Hill and Robert Barton of the University of Durham reached that conclusion by studying the outcomes of one-on-one boxing, tae kwon do, Greco-Roman-wresting, and freestyle-wrestling matches at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

“Antibiotic” Beer Gave Ancient Africans Health Buzz

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 16, 2005   View Article

Humans have been downing beer for millennia. In certain instances, some drinkers got an extra dose of medicine, according to an analysis of Nubian bones from Sudan in North Africa.

George Armelagos is an anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. For more than two decades, he and his colleagues have studied bones dated to between A.D. 350 and 550 from Nubia, an ancient kingdom south of ancient Egypt along the Nile River.

The bones, the researchers say, contain traces of the antibiotic tetracycline.

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