Discovery

100-year-old whisky highlights art of blending

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 9, 2012   View Article

Antarctica-bound explorers would be wise to bring a case or two of Scotch whisky to endure chilly nights. Ernest Shackleton was wise.

In fact, the Scotch he packed for the Nimrod’s 1907 attempt to reach the South Pole was exceptional, according to distillers who sampled and re-created the drink.

New Shark Species Found in Food Market

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 1, 2011   View Article

It’s unlikely anyone’s ever complained, “Waiter, there’s a new species in my soup.” But the situation isn’t as rare as you might think.

A monkey, a lizard, and an “extinct” bird have all been discovered en route to the dinner plate, and now a new shark species joins their ranks, scientists report.

Fish taxonomists found the previously unknown shark at a market in Taiwan—no big surprise, according to study co-author William White.

Top ten species of 2009 named

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: July 15, 2010   View Article

This bomb-dropping worm, Swima bombiviridis, is among the top 10 species discovered in 2009, according to the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The annual roundup winnows down a list of about 20,000 species described each year to just a few mind-benders.

“It is a great way of getting the public involved in biodiversity,” says Mary Liz Jameson, a biodiversity scientist at Wichita State University and chair of this year’s selection committee. While the criteria for selection include scientific significance, Jameson admits that “the cool factor” also plays a part.

For example, the bomb-dropping worm found off the coast of California “has these green gills it can kind of throw off, and the predator will follow the gill instead of following the [worm], so it is tripping up the predator,” Jameson said. “It’s really cool.”

Check out the other cool species on the top-10 list.

Pictures: Giant Undersea Volcano Revealed

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 15, 2010   View Article

Captured by high-resolution cameras aboard a robotic submersible, mineral-rich water spews from hydrothermal vents in this June 30 picture of Kawio Barat, a massive undersea volcano off Indonesia.

During the past few weeks, the submerged volcano—one of the world’s largest—was mapped and explored in detail for the first time by a joint Indonesian-U.S. expedition north of the island of Sulawesi.

Eight great American discoveries in science

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: July 4, 2010   View Article

When the colonies declared independence from Great Britain in 1776, scientists in the Americas, with a few notable exceptions, were largely dependent on Europeans — shipping botanical specimens, for example, across the Atlantic for study and classification, according to Marc Rothenberg, the agency historian with the National Science Foundation. But in the 19th century, the infrastructure was put in place for homegrown American science and engineering.

“In the 20th century we really become an international leader,” Rothenberg said. Follow along as msnbc.com takes a look back at some of the achievements and discoveries that gave the U.S. a leadership role in the sciences.

New Proof Unknown “Structure” Tug at Our Universe

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 22, 2010   View Article

“Dark flow” is no fluke, suggests a new study that strengthens the case for unknown, unseen “structures” lurking on the outskirts of creation.

In 2008 scientists reported the discovery of hundreds of galaxy clusters streaming in the same direction at more than 2.2 million miles (3.6 million kilometers) an hour.

This mysterious motion can’t be explained by current models for distribution of mass in the universe. So the researchers made the controversial suggestion that the clusters are being tugged on by the gravity of matter outside the known universe.

‘Extinct’ species found alive and kicking

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: November 12, 2009   View Article

The Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog, shown here, is one of 17,291 species threatened with extinction, according to an assessment of 47,677 animals and plants by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The frog is found only in the mountains surrounding the town of El Valle de Anton in central Panama. Deforestation and a fungal disease are blamed for its decline. Only one male has been heard calling in the wild since 2006, and captive breeding efforts have so far proven unsuccessful, according to the IUCN’s “Red List of Threatened Species.”

Many conservationists say an extinction crisis is under way, driven by factors that range from overfishing and forest clear-cutting to global climate change. Amid all this doom and gloom, however, a bit of fleeting good news appears every now and again, when a species thought gone for good surprisingly reappears.

Learn eight of these stories. The endings may not be happy, but at least their stories are not yet over.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach