Archive for 2010

Microbe makes hydrogen out of air

Publication: Cosmic Log on MSNBC.com   Date: December 15, 2010   View Article

An ocean microbe may open a new frontier in the search for clean, renewable energy: In a sense, it makes hydrogen — a clean-burning fuel — out of the air.

The bug, a cyanobacterium called Cyanothece 51142, performs photosynthesis during the day and fixes nitrogen at night. Hydrogen is a byproduct of the nitrogen fixation process. And when you burn hydrogen, the main byproduct is water.

A glowing snail? Now that’s scary!

Publication: Cosmic Log on MSNBC.com   Date: December 15, 2010   View Article

A tiny marine snail that looks as if it could be at home dangling from a Christmas tree emits its green glow to scare off would be predators, according to a new study.

The snail, Hinea brasiliana, is a type of clusterwink snail that is typically found bunched up in groups along rocky shorelines. The green glow results from a phenomenon known as bioluminescence — that is, light made by living animals.

The wonders of the cell go online

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 13, 2010   View Article

For many of us, the wonders of cell biology came alive when we peered through a microscope at an amoeba in science class. Today, a new online image library of cells brings that same sense of wonder and magic to anyone with an Internet connection.

The library contains more than 1,000 images, videos, and animations of cells from a variety of organisms— from the Chinese hamster to humans.

Help scientists go to the dark side

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 7, 2010   View Article

The universe has a dark side, and an international team of astronomers is calling on scientists and computer geeks of all stripes to help them understand it better.

Photos: Mummy Bundles, Child Sacrifices Found on Pyramid

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 25, 2010   View Article

A rare undisturbed tomb atop an ancient pyramid in Lima, Peru, has yielded four 1,150-year-old, well-bundled mummies of the Wari culture, archaeologists announced on October 20.

The mummies include what appear to be an elite woman and three children, who may have been sacrificed to accompany her into the afterlife, according to Isabel Flores Espinosa, excavation director at the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site.

The Wari civilization spread along the central coast of Peru beginning around A.D. 700. At Huaca Pucllana, they replaced the Lima culture before being replaced themselves by the ascendant Inca.

Pictures: 12 Ancient Landmarks on Verge of Vanishing

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 23, 2010   View Article

Damaged frescoes in the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents tell a story of neglect in the medieval city of Ani, now part of Turkey.

Sitting in a militarized zone near the current Turkish-Armenian border, the city is one of 12 cultural sites on the verge of collapse, according to a report released this week by the San Francisco, California-based Global Heritage Fund.

Odd Pyramid Had Rooftop Homes, Ritual Sacrifices?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 21, 2010   View Article

Yes, it’s yielded human remains—including five females who may have been ritually sacrificed. But it’s the signs of life that make a half-excavated Peruvian pyramid of the Moche culture stand out, archaeologists say.

“Often these pyramidal mounds were built as mortuaries more than anything else,” said excavation co-leader Edward Swenson.

“In most instances [a pyramid] is not where people live, it is not where they were cooking their food,” the University of Toronto archaeologist added.

But the newly exposed 1,400-year-old flat-topped pyramid supported residences for up to a couple dozen elites, who oversaw and perhaps took part in copper production at the site, evidence suggests.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach