Daily Archives: May 7, 2012

30 Supernovas Per Second

supernova pic

Supernova 1987A, discovered in 1987, is the closest exploding star to Earth to be detected since 1604 and resides in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy adjacent to our own Milky Way Galaxy. In addition to ejecting massive amounts of hydrogen, 1987A has spewed helium, oxygen, nitrogen and rarer heavy elements like sulfur, silicon and iron. Supernovae are responsible for a large fraction of biologically important elements, including oxygen, carbon and iron found in plants and animals on … Continue reading

Posted in Cosmology | Leave a comment

Scientists discover new type of cell with a key role in treatment-resistant asthma

For most people with asthma, a couple of puffs from an inhaler filled with steroids makes breathing easy. But if their lungs become resistant to the calming effect of that medicine, they live in fear of severe asthma attacks that could send them to the hospital – or worse. Now, new research from the University of Michigan Health System may help explain what’s going on in the lungs of these steroid-resistant individuals. The findings could aid the development of new … Continue reading

Posted in Biology | Leave a comment

Did a Copying Mistake Make Humans So Smart?

A copyediting error appears to be responsible for critical features of the human brain that distinguish us from our closest primate kin, new research finds.When tested out in mice, researchers found this “error” caused the rodents’ brain cells to move into place faster and enabled more connections between brain cells. When any cell divides, it first copies its entire genome. During this process, it can make errors. The cell usually fixes errors in the DNA. But when they aren’t fixed, … Continue reading

Posted in Biology, Evolution | Leave a comment

Gaseous emissions from dinosaurs may have warmed prehistoric earth

dinosaursmay

Sauropod dinosaurs could in principle have produced enough of the greenhouse gas methane to warm the climate many millions of years ago, at a time when the Earth was warm and wet. That’s according to calculations reported in the May 8th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The hulking sauropods, distinctive for their enormous size and unusually long necks, were widespread about 150 million years ago. As in cows, methane-producing microbes aided the sauropods’ digestion by fermenting their plant … Continue reading

Posted in Ecology, Evolution | Leave a comment