Check out this article about how scientists tracked the flight patterns of bees. Turns out that bees are able to very quickly learn new, efficient routes to pollen-laden flowers.
NASA has released a treasure trove of data gathered about the asteroid Vesta. Vesta, an asteroid that is 330 miles across, is the second largest asteroid in our solar system. Vesta is considered a proto-planet, meaning that it formed early in the history of the solar system and could have formed a planet if it had been able to gather more stellar dust, the material that was gathered by gravity to form planets like earth. By examining the data from the probe, scientists hope to learn more about how planets form.
Read more by clicking here!
That the human genome - our DNA, or all of our genes - is more complicated than most people thought is not a huge surprise. BUT, scientists just released more than 30 studies suggesting that large chunks of DNA that scientists thought didn't do anything and had called "junk DNA" really works to control all of our other genes. This is an exciting discovery especially for aspiring scientists in the Boston area because almost certainly these discoveries will lead to a flurry of research and medical development, much of which will take place right
Scientists sorting through 70,000 droplet sized pieces of amber from the hills of Northern Italy found microscopic, fossilized mites. These wormlike, sap-sucking mites are now one of the oldest creepy-crawlies found preserved in amber yet, researchers say. Insects, spiders and other buglike creatures make up a joint-legged group known as the arthropods. The earliest members of the ancestors of flies and wasps originated near the start of the Triassic period about 250 million years ago, but much remains unknown about the evolution of these and many other groups of insects during this distant era.
Here is a picture of the fossilized mite. This photo was taken through a microscope because the mites are too small to be seen with just your eyes.
Amber is a rock that is formed when tree sap solidifies and hardens over long periods of time. Imagine going outside to look at tree sap here in Boston. Do you think that there might be some insects like the ones we are familiar with that are stuck in tree sap now? Absolutely! The same thing happened to these mites 250 million years ago! The mites were doing there thing, but then they became stuck in tree sap. That tree sap hardened and was covered in rock to form part of a larger sedimentary rock. The great part about animals or plants whose bodies are trapped in amber is that their structures are preserved more completely than in any other type of fossil, so scientists can learn a lot about creatures that are preserved in amber.
Check out the video below for more information about the mite:
Pretty cool huh?
You can read more about this awesome fossil find at the links below. But, before you check out any of those links, I want to leave you with this thought about the amazing amount of work that important scientific discoveries require. The scientists on this team spent several months scrambling through the Italian Alps (mountain range) collecting the samples of amber. They then spent 2 years (2 years!) looking at each one of 70,000 samples of amber. In all those 70,000 droplets of amber, the scientists found 3 fossils (2 mites and a fly about the size of a fruit fly). So, please remember that discovering important information or doing important things takes a lot of hard work!
Links for more Information about the mite fossils and fossils preserved in amber:
- News Article from MSNBC.
- Another News Article, this one from the BBC.
- Here's an article about an amazing discovery that scientists made of feathers found in amber. The feathers belonged to some species of dinosaurs and early types of birds. When we talk about evolution, these are some very important fossils showing how feathers developed!
Below is a video about insects that have become trapped in amber. In particular, these samples were found in the Dominican Republic.
The United States' space agency NASA just landed another robotic science laboratory on the planet Mars! The robotic vehicle - or rover - is nicknamed Curiosity. Curiosity is about the size of an SUV and travelled over 350,000,000 miles after it was launched on board a rocket that blasted into space from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Check out a picture of the Curiosity rover to the left.
If you thought that travelling 350,000,000 miles was bad, imagine having to slow down from 22,500 miles per hour to zero in just under 7 minutes. That's what the curiosity rover had to do in order to land safely on Mars. The video below is an animation showing how hundreds of engineers and scientists planned for Curiosity to land safely after its long journey. Do you want to know the most amazing part? Their plan worked!
NASA needed thousands of engineers to work on the Mars Curiosity rover and the space agency spent over $2.5 billion getting the rover to Mars. Do you want to see what mission control looked like when all of those engineers found out that their robot had landed safely and the $2.5 billion machine hadn't crashed? Check out the video below! Can you imagine yourself in that room 15 years from now celebrating YOUR rover landing on another planet?
By the way, in case you thought that all engineers were boring, then check out the Flight Director for the Mars Curiosity mission. Bobak Ferdowsi rocks a MOHAWK!
Wait, was that animation before not cool enough for you? Here is actual video - yes, actual video from MARS - showing the landing of Mars Curiosity Rover!
And, here is one person's take on the 5 Coolest Things about the Curiosity Rover. (Hint, one of them is that Curiosity is NUCLEAR!)