Archive for June, 2005

Global Warming May Alter Atlantic Currents, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 27, 2005   View Article

In the 2004 eco-disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, Europe and North America are gripped by a deep freeze after global warming halts the circulation of a North Atlantic ocean current. The film is pure Hollywood hyperbole.

But some scientists say the current is vulnerable to rising temperatures.

Acting like a conveyor belt, the current transports warm, surface waters toward the Poles and cold, deep waters toward the Equator.

Extinct Mammal Had Venomous Bite, Fossils Suggest

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 22, 2005   View Article

About 60 million years ago, a small shrew-like mammal captured its prey by stabbing it with dagger-like teeth that delivered a nasty dose of venom, paleontologists reported today.

“Nothing like that has ever been described before,” said Richard Fox, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

In Scandinavia, Solstice Means Fun in the Midnight Sun

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 21, 2005   View Article

In the Northern Hemisphere, the longest days of the year have arrived. For Scandinavians that means one thing: Party time!

“It’s just a time when finally nature is awake and alive,” said Rose Marie Oster, a Swedish native and professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Dino-Era Fossils Inspired Monster Myths, Author Says

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

According to the Lakota, or Sioux, Indians’ “Water Monsters of the Badlands” legend, the rugged and eroded lands of southwestern South Dakota were the stage for an epic battle between water spirits and thunder and lightning spirits.

The water sprits were embodied by giant water monsters known as the Unktehi. Thunder and lighting spirits took the form of thunderbirds known as Wakinyan.

New Nano Brushes Keep the Tiny Tidy

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

Even at the nano-scale—where machines and materials can be the size of atoms and molecules—there are messes to sweep, walls to paint, tubes to unclog, and electronics to power. And now there’s a way to make the tiniest of brushes to do these chores.

Made with bristles more than a thousand times smaller than a human hair, they are the tiniest brushes in the world. Yet they are durable and flexible enough to perform any brushing chore.

Extinct Giant Bird Doomed by Slow Growth, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 15, 2005   View Article

The large, flightless moa bird that roamed New Zealand in ancient times grew much more slowly than modern birds, according to a new study of their bones. The finding suggests that slow growth doomed the moa to extinction when humans arrived about 700 years ago.

Unlike the bones of all modern birds, several moa bones show growth marks similar to the rings found on tree stumps, said Samuel Turvey, an ecologist at the Zoological Society of London in the U.K.

Toxic Snail Venoms Yielding New Painkillers, Drugs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 14, 2005   View Article

In chronic pain? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself at a corner pharmacy filling a prescription for synthetic snail venom sometime soon.

Last December the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first painkiller derived from a cocktail of potent chemicals produced by cone snails.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach