Flying Thunder

Jets are quite loud especially if they fly over your home much less for those closer like passengers or those at an airport. When jet-powered passenger aircraft first went into service in the 1950s, their engines were as loud as rock bands. Times have changed, but public dismay over jet noise has not. EurActiv reports from the Paris Air Show. Today’s engines are on average 75% quieter than those produced at the dawn of the jet age. This is the result, manufacturers say, of steady technological improvements that along with more aerodynamic aircraft have reduced the nuisance of flying for passengers and those on the ground.

Memory Loss and Gain

Would it not be nice to take a pill and regain that elusive memory? We are all forgetful at times and without a clue as to how to get it better. Memory improved in mice injected with a small, drug-like molecule discovered by UCSF San Francisco researchers studying how cells respond to biological stress. The same biochemical pathway the molecule acts on might one day be targeted in humans to improve memory, according to the senior author of the study, Peter Walter, PhD, UCSF professor of biochemistry and biophysics and a Howard Hughes Investigator.

Martian Dry Ice Gliders

Glaciers move, or flow, downhill due to gravity and the internal deformation of ice on Earth. It is not the same when there is dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). NASA research indicates hunks of frozen carbon dioxide -- dry ice -- may glide down some Martian sand dunes on cushions of gas similar to miniature hovercraft, plowing furrows as they go. Researchers deduced this process could explain one enigmatic class of gullies seen on Martian sand dunes by examining images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and performing experiments on sand dunes in Utah and California.

The Flesh of Ancient Fish

It is hard to tell from just bones or a fossilized rock what a creature once looked like with muscles. Flesh does not survive well over the eons. Swedish, Australian and French researchers have presented for the first time miraculously preserved musculature of 380 million year old armored fish discovered in north-west Australia. This research will help scientists to better understand how neck and abdominal muscles evolved during the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates. The scientific paper describing the discovery is published in the journal Science. The team of scientists who studied the fossilized fish was jointly directed by Prof. Kate Trinajstic, Curtin University, Perth, Australia and Prof. Per Erik Ahlberg of Uppsala University Sweden.

Odd Martian Thermal Rhythm

Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found that temperatures in the Martian atmosphere regularly rise and fall not just once each day, but twice. "We see a temperature maximum in the middle of the day, but we also see a temperature maximum a little after midnight," said Armin Kleinboehl of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who is the lead author of a new report on these findings. Temperatures swing by as much as 58 degrees Fahrenheit (32 kelvins) in this odd, twice-a-day pattern, as detected by the orbiter's Mars Climate Sounder instrument.

Staglamites and Climate

A new set of long-term climate records based on cave stalagmites collected from tropical Borneo shows that the western tropical Pacific responded very differently than other regions of the globe to abrupt climate change events. The 100,000-year climate record adds to data on past climate events, and may help scientists assess models designed to predict how the Earth's climate will respond in the future. The new record resulted from oxygen isotope analysis of more than 1,700 calcium carbonate samples taken from four stalagmites found in three different northern Borneo caves. The results suggest that climate feedbacks within the tropical regions may amplify and prolong abrupt climate change events that were first discovered in the North Atlantic.

The Sturgeon Fossil

Sturgeon like fishes appeared in the fossil record approximately 200 million years ago, around the very end of the Triassic, making them among the most ancient of actinopterygian fishes. True sturgeons appear in the fossil record during the Upper Cretaceous. In that time, sturgeons have undergone remarkably little change, indicating their evolution has been exceptionally slow and earning them an informal status as living fossils. But a new study by University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues reveals that in at least one measure of evolutionary change—changes in body size over time—sturgeon have been one of the fastest-evolving fish on the planet.

Unworldly Life Source

Nowadays Earth is perfectly lovely but once it was a barren rock. So how did life arise on such an unpromising property? In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world. Lawrence Livermore scientist Nir Goldman and University of Ontario Institute of Technology colleague Isaac Tamblyn (a former LLNL postdoc) found that icy comets that crashed into Earth billions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds, including the building blocks of proteins and nucleobases pairs of DNA and RNA. Comets contain a variety of simple molecules, such as water, ammonia, methanol and carbon dioxide, and an impact event with a planetary surface would provide an abundant supply of energy to drive chemical reactions.

Non-Exhaust Automotive Pollution

Cars are well known for their tail pipe pollution. Great efforts have been made to reduce such. But there are other sources associated with vehicles that are not normally considered. Vehicle exhausts are responsible for only a third of traffic pollution, according to new research. The study, published in Atmospheric Environment, says nearly half of air pollution from road traffic is due to non-exhaust sources such as brake wear, road surface wear, and particles whipped up from the road by passing vehicles. Professor Ranjeet Sokhi, of the University of Hertfordshire, who led the study, is calling for greater control of non-exhaust pollution.

Ocean Denitrification

Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products. In general, it occurs where oxygen, a more energetically favorable electron acceptor, is depleted, and bacteria respire nitrate as a substitute terminal electron acceptor. Denitrification only takes place in anoxic environments where oxygen consumption exceeds the oxygen supply and where sufficient quantities of nitrate are present. As ice sheets melted during the deglaciation of the last ice age and global oceans warmed, oceanic oxygen levels decreased and denitrification accelerated by 30 to 120 percent, a new international study shows, creating oxygen-poor marine regions and throwing the oceanic nitrogen cycle off balance. By the end of the deglaciation, however, the oceans had adjusted to their new warmer state and the nitrogen cycle had stabilized – though it took several millennia. Recent increases in global warming, thought to be caused by human activities, are raising concerns that denitrification may adversely affect marine environments over the next few hundred years, with potentially significant effects on ocean food webs.