Frozen Dione

Dione is the 15th largest moon in the Solar System, and is more massive than all known moons smaller than itself combined. It is composed primarily of water ice, but as the third densest of Saturn's moons (after Enceladus and Titan, whose density is increased by gravitational compression) it must have a considerable fraction (~ 46%) of denser material like silicate rock in its interior. So it is much like a frozen snowball, inert and dead. Thanks to close-up images of a 500-mile-long (800-kilometer-long) mountain on the moon from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found more evidence for the idea that Dione was likely geologically active in the past. It could still be active now.

The Rise of Aurornis Xui

Aurornis is an extinct genus of avialan theropod dinosaurs and, perhaps, one of the very first. It contains a single species, Aurornis xui, described based on a fossil found in the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning, China, in rocks dated to the late Jurassic period (Oxfordian stage), about 160 million years ago. Scientists in magazine, say a feathered, chicken-sized creature known as Aurornis xui, unearthed recently in northeastern China, challenges the pivotal position of Archaeopteryx — long regarded as the oldest bird.

The Bonn Declaration

Long before nations fought over oil, they fought over water and food. A conference in Bonn Germany of 500 leading water scientists from around the world today issued a stark warning that, without major reforms, "in the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute. This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable."

To Walk or to Climb

To walk on two or four limbs, that is the question... Jeremy M. DeSilva an anthropologist at Worcester University in Massachusetts has published Functional Morphology of the Ankle and the Likelihood of Climbing in Early Hominins, in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceeding of the National Academies of Sciences of the USA current issue. The study includes data gathered by DeSilva in Uganda's Kibale National Park of modern chimpanzee and comparisons of hominin fossil skeletal remains dating back some 4.12 million to 1.53 million years ago. The findings appear to show that if early hominins depended on tree climbing as part of their survival repertoire, they were performing it decidedly different from modern chimpanzee locomotor activity. The question DeSilva addresses is whether early man's adaptation to full bipedalism involved a swift shedding of the ability to climb and swing from trees. DeSilva compared the great apes and early hominin ankle joint, the tibia and the talus in the foot. He discovered marked differences between the structure and capacity of these two skeletal fossils.

New Anti-Staph Drugs

Bugs and infections are growing ever stronger and more resistant to the antibiotics and the like. A team of Wisconsin scientists has synthesized a potent new class of compounds capable of curbing the bacteria that cause staph infections. They describe these new agents as effectively interfering with the quorum sensing behavior of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium at the root of a host of human infections ranging from acne to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and sepsis.

Climate Extreme Prediction

It seems that there is always another opinion on how the climate is or will be changing. A new study led by Oxford University concludes that the latest observations of the climate system's response to rising greenhouse gas levels are consistent with conventional estimates of the long-term climate sensitivity, despite a warming pause over the past decade. However, the most extreme rates of warming simulated by the current generation of climate models over 50- to 100-year timescales are looking less likely, according to the paper published online by Nature Geoscience.

Vitamin C and Gout

Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate (the anion of ascorbic acid), is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. Vitamin C has been advocated for many other therapeutic uses. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant and is necessary for the treatment and prevention of scurvy, though in nearly all cases dietary intake is adequate to prevent deficiency and supplementation is not necessary. Though vitamin C has been promoted as useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions, most of these uses are poorly supported by the evidence and sometimes contraindicated. Despite previous studies touting its benefit in moderating gout risk, new research reveals that vitamin C does not reduce uric acid (urate) levels to a clinically significant degree in patients with established gout. Vitamin C supplementation, alone or in combination with allopurinol, appears to have a weak effect on lowering uric acid levels in gout patients according to the results published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Methane Across the Country

Methane is created naturally near the Earth's surface, primarily by microorganisms by the process of methanogenesis. It is carried into the stratosphere by rising air in the tropics. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, stronger than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, though on a century timescale, carbon dioxide is far stronger. "This research suggests significant benefits to slowing climate change could result from reducing industrial methane emissions in parallel with efforts on carbon dioxide," said Ira Leifer, a researcher with UC Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute. Doing a a cross-continent drive, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the U.S. are higher than is currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. Their research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Tundra Carbon Impact?

There is a concern with the carbon stored in the form of frozen partially decomposed vegetation in the vast tundra of the north. When the permafrost melts, it may releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases. The amount of greenhouse gases which will be released from the Arctic’s stockpile of carbon may be more secure than scientists thought. In a 20-year experiment that warmed patches of chilly ground, tundra soil kept its stored carbon, researchers report. Almost half of the world’s soil carbon is stored at high latitude, in the form of dead and decaying organisms.

Ancient Trapped Water

The world is a big place with a lot of cavities and hidden places. Scientists have now discovered water that has been trapped in rock for more than a billion years. The water might contain microbes that evolved independently from the surface world, and it's a finding that gives new hope to the search for life on other planets and how it may appear or act. The water samples came from holes drilled by gold miners near the small town of Timmins, Ontario, about 350 miles north of Toronto. Deep in the Canadian bedrock, miners drill holes and collect samples. Sometimes they hit pay dirt; sometimes they hit water, which seeps out from tiny crevices in the rock.