The glare of city lights drown out the stars. So many people are plumping for a less bright world. Rome is the latest city to start a dimmimg programme. The 170,000 street lights will be dimmed and signs in shop windows will be turned off.
In doing so Rome stands to save 40 per cent on its lighting bills. So while the heavens will look brighter, the bills will be lighter!
Chinese archaelogists may have found one of the world’s oldest observatories in the Shanxi province. The 4100-year-old observatory, made of an inner and outer circle of stone pillars, was designed as a semi-cricle 40 metres in diameter.
13 stone pillars, at least four metres tall, made the foundation of the first circle, forming 12 gaps between them. Viewing the position of the sunrise through these gaps allowed people to know the date to within a day or two.
A 20-million-year-old spider with droplets of its own blood was found frozen in fossilised tree resin or amber in the Caribbean. That almost reads like Michael Crichton’s book, Jurassic Park doesn’t it?
This is the first known amber fossil with traces of blood and may help scientist to understand the origins of animals in the Caribbean. It may also shed light on the geological history of the region.
Why are birds’ eggs speckled? A debate has raged over this question among the ornithologists for over a hundred years. Many believed that the markings are camouflage to help conceal eggs from predators.
But the specks may be a solution to strengthen fragile shells. New studies show that pigment chemicals that create the speckles may act as a kind of glue that supports thin areas of the shell and protect them from breaking.
A red seaweed species (Callophycus serratus) found on coral reefs along Fiji’s coastline may turn out to be a boon. Researchers identified 10 new molecular compounds that could be developed for medicinal use.
Of these one specific compound – bromophycolide A – may be able to fight cancer by triggering cellular suicide.
The threat of asteriod hits has made scientists look at ways to avert them. Suggestions included hitting them with nuclear missles or painting the surface white so that a change in solar energy radiation would change the course.
But a simpler alternative may be at hand. NASA scientists say that asteriod hits can be averted by parking a spacecraft near it. Placing a heavy object near the asteroid will produce a gravitational tug sufficient to change its orbit. But this strategy will work only if the asteroid threat is detected 20 years in advance.
When Pied Piper led all the mice of Hamelin over the river edge he surely didn’t know that they sang too!! But scientists say that rodents share singing abilities with birds and other natural crooners. The difference is that it’s inaudible to humans.
Bird song and whale song both have structured themes arranged in a pattern. Mice sing in similar ways. In fact, mouse songs may be more complex than those of some birds.